BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - After climbing during the previous session, the European markets got off to a positive start Thursday and advanced further during the first few hours of trade. However, the markets then began to pare their early gains and most ended the session with small increases.
Investors largely shrugged off yesterday's larger than expected increase in U.S. inflation. Traders have begun to cope with the prospect of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve at its March meeting.
Automakers performed well Thursday, following the release of some solid industry data. Europe's car registrations rebounded in January, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association reported Thursday. Demand for passenger cars grew 7.1 percent in January from the previous year, reversing a 4.9 percent drop in December. Sales totaled 1.25 million units in January.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.53 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks increased 0.59 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.35 percent.
The DAX of Germany climbed 0.06 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 1.11 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.29 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.21 percent.
In Paris, Schneider Electric rallied 3.41 percent. The electrical equipment producer overcame currency headwinds to post a record net profit in 2017.
Airbus soared 10.28 percent. The European plane maker posted improved earnings last year on the back of record plane deliveries.
IT services group Capgemini jumped 2.30 percent after its annual revenue topped forecasts, driven by demand for digital and cloud services.
In London, Indivior sank 7.31 percent after the pharmaceuticals group booked a one-time cost of $185 million to deal with antitrust and other litigation.
Standard Life Aberdeen tumbled 7.93 percent after Lloyds Banking Group and Scottish Widows axed a £100 billion asset management mandate with the company.
Companies that derive revenue from South Africa gained ground as the rand hit its highest level in nearly three years following Jacob Zuma's resignation as the nation's president. Old Mutual jumped 2.97 percent and Anglo American gained 2.02 percent.
Food giant Nestle fell 2.10 percent in Zurich as its 2017 earnings fell short of expectations amid challenging environments in its North American and Brazilian markets.
Insurer Aegon rallied 2.18 percent in Amsterdam after its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled due to a $554 million gain from U.S. tax reform.
Engineering and consultancy company Arcadis NV surged 4.02 percent after reporting a 10 percent increase full-year net income.
The euro area trade surplus increased in December from the previous month on higher exports, Eurostat reported Thursday. The trade surplus rose to a seasonally adjusted EUR 23.8 billion in December from EUR 22 billion in the previous month. The expected level was EUR 22.3 billion.
France's unemployment rate declined in the fourth quarter to the lowest level since early 2009, the statistical office Insee said Thursday. The ILO jobless rate in metropolitan France and the overseas departments came in at 8.9 percent of the labor force, the lowest since early 2009. The rate decreased by 0.7 percentage points sequentially.
First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits rose in line with economist estimates in the week ended February 10th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. The report said initial jobless claims climbed to 230,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week's revised level of 223,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 230,000 from the 221,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Following the release of a report on consumer price inflation on Wednesday, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing producer prices in the U.S. rose in line with economist estimates in the month of January.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.4 percent in January after coming in unchanged in December.
Manufacturing activity in New York grew at a somewhat slower rate in the month of February, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Thursday.
The New York Fed said its general business conditions index fell to 13.1 in February from 17.7 in January, although a positive reading still indicates growth. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 17.5.
A report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Thursday unexpectedly showed a faster rate of growth in regional manufacturing activity in the month of February. The Philly Fed said its index for current manufacturing activity climbed to 25.8 in February from 22.2 in January, with a positive reading indicating growth. Economists had expected the index to drop to 21.1.
Partly reflecting a decrease in mining output, the Federal Reserve released a report on Thursday unexpectedly showing a slight drop in U.S. industrial production in the month of January. The Fed said industrial production dipped by 0.1 percent after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.4 percent in December.
Economists had expected production to rise by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.9 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.
Homebuilder confidence in the U.S. remained at a healthy level in the month of February, according to a report released by the National Association of Home Builders on Thursday. The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index came in at 72 in February, unchanged from January and in line with economist estimates.
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