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European markets close mixed as ECB says it 'stands ready' to act

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U.S. President Joe Biden fist bumps Vice President Kamala Harris after she took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Key Points
  • The ECB kept interest rates unchanged Thursday but said it stands ready to act as coronavirus infection rates rise across the euro zone, leading to renewed lockdown measures.
  • European leaders and officials have welcomed the start of Joe Biden's presidency after four tumultuous years of relations during the Trump tenure.

LONDON — European stocks closed mixed on Thursday as traders monitored the European Central Bank's latest meeting and the beginning of Joe Biden's presidency.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session flat, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions. Tech stocks were the biggest gainers, up 1.6%, while oil and gas shares lost 1.3%.

Global markets have been buoyant at the start of Joe Biden's presidency. On Thursday, shares in Asia-Pacific rose while U.S. stocks were mostly higher. The Nasdaq composite jumped to another record as traders stateside bet on strong earnings from big tech firms next week.

Biden was sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday, succeeding former President Donald Trump. During his inaugural address, Biden called on Americans to reject efforts to sow division and pledged to work for the voters who did not support him.

Investors also took stock of a better-than-expected reading on U.S. jobless claims. First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 900,000 for the week ended Jan. 16, lower than an estimate of 925,000 according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

In Europe, leaders and officials have welcomed the start of Biden's presidency after four tumultuous years of relations during the Trump presidency. "The United States is back. And Europe stands ready" European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in parliament Wednesday that he looked forward to "strengthening the partnership between our countries."

The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged Thursday but said it stands ready to act as coronavirus infection rates rise across the euro zone, leading to renewed lockdown measures.

In terms of individual share price movement, Swiss e-commerce pharmacy Zur Rose Group surged 8.8% after robust full-year results while Spanish lender Bankinter climbed 4.3% after an upbeat 2021 forecast.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, IG Group fell 8.6% after the spread-betting firm said it would buy U.S. online trader Tastytrade in a $1 billion cash-and-stock deal.