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European markets close higher as ECB keeps policy unchanged

  • The European Central Bank kept its monetary policy unchanged on Thursday.
  • Credit Suisse reported a net loss of 252 million Swiss francs ($275 million) as it digests the impact of the Archegos hedge fund scandal.
  • U.S. initial jobless claims for last week came in at 547,000, which was below the Dow Jones estimate for 603,000 and a new low for the Covid-19 pandemic era.

LONDON — European stocks closed higher on Thursday as traders digested the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by 0.7%, with the utilities sector jumping 2.2% to lead gains while insurance shares dropped 0.3%.

The European Central Bank kept its monetary policy unchanged on Thursday as traders looked for clues on when its massive monetary stimulus might start to be wound down.

"Preserving favorable financing conditions over the pandemic period remains essential to reduce uncertainty and bolster confidence, thereby underpinning economic activity and safeguarding medium-term price stability," ECB President Christine Lagarde said at a press conference on Thursday.

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On Wall Street, U.S stocks were mixed following a strong day of gains as the market appeared stuck in a trading range with investors turning a blind eye on solid earnings and economic data.

Economic data released Thursday also gave investors a snapshot of the ongoing labor market recovery in the U.S. Initial jobless claims for last week came in at 547,000, which was below the Dow Jones estimate for 603,000 and a new low for the Covid-19 pandemic era.

Earnings

Earnings were high on the agenda in Europe on Thursday with Nestle, SAP and Renault among the companies reporting.

Credit Suisse, meanwhile, reported a net loss of 252 million Swiss francs ($275 million) as it digests the impact of the Archegos hedge fund scandal. The Swiss lender's shares fell 2.1% by the market close.

Swedish bearings maker SKF slid 6.4% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after matching quarterly earnings forecasts.

Renault posted a 1.1% fall in first-quarter revenue as it navigates a turnaround effort and the global semiconductor shortage. Shares slid 1.3% lower.

Nestle reported its strongest quarterly sales growth in a decade, with organic sales rising 7.7% in the first quarter. The Swiss food group's shares climbed 2.9%.

Finnish sustainable technology firm Wartsila was the biggest mover on Thursday morning, soaring 15.1% after beating estimates on first-quarter orders despite missing profit forecasts.

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