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European Markets Close Higher, Kicking Off the Second Half of 2021 on a Positive Note

Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed out its fifth straight positive month on Wednesday, and started the second half up 13.4% year-to-date.
  • U.S. weekly initial jobless claims for last week totaled 364,000, setting a pandemic-era low and coming in lower than estimates.
  • Euro zone manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace on record in June, according to IHS Markit's final manufacturing PMI.

LONDON — European stock markets climbed on Thursday, beginning the second half of 2021 on a positive note as investors anticipated the continent's economic recovery.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up by 0.6%, with oil and gas shares adding 2.1% while travel and leisure stocks rose 1.9% to lead the gains. Most major bourses finished in positive territory.

The optimism in Europe diverged from the overnight trading in Asia-Pacific, where markets pulled back as a private survey showed Chinese factory activity growth slowing in June. Asian markets are also being weighed down by concerns about a rise in coronavirus infections and fresh lockdowns in the region.

Stateside, stocks were modestly higher Thursday after the S&P 500 also closed out a fifth consecutive month of gains to close at a fresh record.

U.S. weekly initial jobless claims for last week totaled 364,000, setting a pandemic-era low and coming in lower than estimates.

Global market players will be watching a key jobs report from the Labor Department on Friday. A Dow Jones survey puts consensus expectations at 683,000 new jobs added in June.

Back in Europe, euro zone manufacturing activity grew at its fastest pace on record in June, according to IHS Markit's final manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers' index) on Thursday. The reading of 63.4 was up from an initial 63.1 "flash" estimate, and the sharpest incline since the survey began in 1997.

U.K. factories also rode the recovery, though the PMI reading dipped to 63.9 from a record high 65.6 in May. Inflation pressures were also palpable as supply chain challenges cause by the pandemic sent input costs soaring.

In corporate news, Reuters reported, citing three sources, that Credit Suisse is considering a reversal of the regional distribution of its private banking division, in favor of a centralized management structure that will enable the scandal-ridden lender to maintain tighter controls on its operations.

Stocks on the move

In terms of individual share price action, Associated British Foods climbed 4.8% after raising its flagship retail chain Primark's full-year outlook.

Toward the bottom of the European blue chip index, Luxembourgish real estate company Grand City Properties fell 2.5% after a dividend announcement.

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