European markets close higher; France's CAC touches all-time high

This is CNBC's live blog covering European markets.

Employees walk past FTSE AIM share price information displayed on an illuminated rotating cube at the atrium of the London Stock Exchange Group offices in London, U.K.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

European markets ended a choppy session slightly higher, as investors digested data suggesting continued strength in the U.S. economy.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.2% on the day.

European markets

Markets were upbeat through the morning, as France's CAC 40 index hit an all-time intraday high. However, they traded in the red through most of the afternoon after U.S. stocks opened lower.

Data from the U.S. this week — including a hotter-than-expected U.S. inflation report, strong January retail sales and a surprise dip in weekly jobless claims — have investors reconsidering how much further the Federal Reserve will be willing to hike.

In Europe, banks headed gains with a 2% increase, with Commerzbank topping stocks after reporting better-than-expected profits. Health care stocks fell 0.8%.

The French CAC 40 index briefly touched its record level around 10:37 a.m. when it rose by 1.2% to hit 7,387.29 points. It comes after the FTSE 100 surpassed the 8,000-point threshold for the first time Wednesday and closed 0.55% higher, despite global markets seeing a decline.

European stocks close higher

European markets defied negative global sentiment for a second consecutive session on Thursday, with the Stoxx 600 index provisionally closing 0.2% higher.

Germany's DAX was up 0.9%, while France's CAC 40 and U.K.'s FTSE 100 were both up 0.18%.

The banking sector went 2% higher amid a strong earnings season, with Standard Chartered beating expectations.

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Stoxx 600 index.

— Jenni Reid

U.S. stocks fall at Thursday’s open

U.S. stocks fell Thursday, weighed down by another hotter-than-expected inflation report and an unexpected dip in jobless claims.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 284 points, or 0.83%. The S&P 500 dipped 1.12% and the Nasdaq-Composite fell 1.40%.

—Carmen Reinicke

European banks had ‘fantastic’ quarter due to diversified business models, management consultant says.

Octavio Marenzi, chief executive of consultancy Opimas, breaks down why European banks are performing so strongly.

European banks had 'fantastic' quarter due to diversified business models
European banks had 'fantastic' quarter due to diversified business models

France's CAC 40 index touches all-time high

The French benchmark stock market index briefly hit a record intraday high as some of the country's biggest companies posted strong results.

The CAC 40 rose by 1.2% to reach 7.387.29 points, beating the lifetime high of 7,384.86 achieved on Jan. 5, as recorded by Reuters.

The record follows the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index, which hit an all-time high Wednesday.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Commerzbank says 2023 results will be 'well above' 2022's; shares up 8%

Germany's Commerzbank reported better-than-expected profits for the fourth quarter, prompting the bank's share price to increase 8% in morning trading.

The bank also forecasts results for this year will be "well above" those of 2022.

Net profit was up 12%, bolstered by higher interest rates. The bank had also capped a second consecutive profitable year as it navigates a major restructure.

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Chart to show Commerzbank share price.

Commerzbank recorded its highest net profit in more than 10 years, according to a press release by the bank.

"Despite the difficult economic environment and the high one-off burdens in Poland, we more than tripled our net profit and thus increased it even more than expected. That proves our strategy is working," Manfred Knof, chairman of the board of managing directors, said in the statement.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Standard Chartered ‘absolutely not’ for sale, bank CEO says

Standard Chartered is "absolutely not" for sale according to the bank's CEO.

Bill Winters told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore Thursday that a potential sale is not what the company is focused on.

Standard Chartered CEO says the bank has not engaged with prospective bidders
Standard Chartered CEO says the bank has not engaged with prospective bidders

"On the right terms, somebody wants to come and thinks that they can so something, I would encourage engagement rather than ... speculation through the press," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

The comments come after First Abu Dhabi Bank said Friday that it was not evaluating an offer for Standard Chartered.

The full story can be read here.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Centrica up 6% after extending buyback program

Shares of Centrica were up 6% in early trade after the British energy company announced it was extending its share buyback program by £300 million ($361 million).

The company's annual profit more than tripled as energy prices soared and gas production levels were hiked against a backdrop of higher commodity prices.

Centrica also owns a 20% stake in Britain's nuclear fleet, which boosted production and profited from higher electricity prices.

The results reflected the bumper oil earnings reported by the likes of BP and Shell.

The £300 million buyback program comes on top of the £250 million worth of buybacks already announced. The buybacks now amount to around 10% of Centrica's capital, according to the company.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Standard Chartered shares jump as it raises forecast, announces $1 billion share buyback

Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered rose nearly 4% shortly after the firm raised its forecasts and announced a $1 billion share buyback in its fourth quarter results.

The bank saw a 28% jump in profits for the fourth quarter of 2022 and 18% for the full-year of 2022, the release said.

"We expect most of the markets in which we operate to continue their recent momentum with GDP growth in the Asian economies at above 5% over the next two years being pivotal to progressive global recovery," the company said in its earnings statement.

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– Jihye Lee

We could be in the 'early innings of a bull market,' investor Victoria Greene says

There could be some strength in this stock rally, according to Victoria Greene, chief investment officer at G Squared Private Wealth.

"It's ignoring the bond market, it's ignoring the Fed, it's ignoring fundamentals and it's ignoring some of the economic data. All it's focused on is rising on technicals," Greene said Wednesday on CNBC's "Closing Bell: Overtime."

"And this does happen — early innings of a bull market, you always see the market run without any fundamental reason why," she continued.

The investor made her remarks following a positive day for the major averages. Traders shook off a stronger-than-expected January retail sales report that could point to further tightening from the Federal Reserve. According to Greene, that suggests the rally "does have some legs."

"The Fed is saying that they're going to be hawkish, but the technicals are saying this rally is in, and I really don't think we're going to retest those October lows anymore, because we've hit some really important technical supports," Greene said.

— Sarah Min

Japan trade deficit widens to almost $26 billion in January

Japan's trade deficit has expanded to 3.5 trillion yen ($26 billion) for January, widening by 59% compared to the 2.2 trillion recorded in the same period a year ago, government data showed.

On an annualized basis, exports rose 3.5% higher at 6.55 trillion yen, while imports surged 17.8% to just over $10 trillion .

Following the announcement, the Japanese yen strengthened slightly against the US dollar, trading at 133.84.

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— Lim Hui Jie

Stock futures open flat

U.S. stock futures were little changed on Wednesday night after strong retail sales data suggested a resilient U.S. economy.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell by 24 points, or 0.07%. S&P 500 futures dipped 0.03%, and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.06%, respectively.

— Sarah Min

Here are the opening calls

European markets are expected to open higher across the board Thursday, according to IG data. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 is set to be up 19 points to 8,020, France's CAC will gain 26 points to 7,336, Germany's DAX will be up 61 points to hit 15,579, and Italy's MIB will gain 102 points to 27,671.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton