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European Markets Close Mixed After Seeing Initial Weakness

After coming under pressure early in the session, European stocks turned mixed over the course of the trading day on Thursday.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 Index edged up by 0.2 percent to 348.32. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also advanced by 0.5 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

The early weakness came as traders cashed in on recent strength as assessments of trade talks between the U.S. and China showed no significant breakthroughs.

A statement from the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the meetings were held as part of an agreement between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to engage in 90 days of negotiations with a view to achieving needed structural changes in China.

The statement said the talks included discussions on China's pledge to purchase a substantial amount of U.S. goods and services but did not provide details about the tone or outcome of the meetings.

"The United States officials conveyed President Trump's commitment to addressing our persistent trade deficit and to resolving structural issues in order to improve trade between our countries," the statement said.

The statement indicated the delegation led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will now report back to receive guidance on the next steps.

Meanwhile, a statement from China's Commerce Ministry described the talks as "extensive, in-depth and detailed" and said the meetings "laid a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns."

The comments do not dash hopes for a long-term trade deal between the U.S. and China, but traders were likely looking more concrete results.

Investors also pondered Brexit risks and the Fed's future path of interest rate increases. The U.K. Parliament agreed Wednesday that the government must come up with a new Brexit plan within three days if Prime Minister Theresa May's current proposal is voted down.

Südzucker rallied 7.9 percent in Frankfurt after confirming its full-year forecast.

Sodexo also jumped 2.5 percent in Paris after the food services and facilities management group reported a rise in first quarter revenues and maintained its full-year objectives.

Shares of Tesco also climbed 2.2 percent. The company said that its like-for-like sales in the U.K. & ROI business including Booker grew by 1.9 percent in the third quarter and 2.6 percent in the six-week Christmas period.

Premier Oil jumped 3.8 percent. In its trading and operations update ahead of its 2018 results, the company said its production was 7 percent ahead of last year at 80.5 kboepd.

On the other hand, Debenhams plunged 14.7 percent after it reported a sharp drop in sales during the crucial Christmas trading period.

Ericsson also moved notably lower. The mobile telecom equipment maker said it would book charges of 6.1 billion crowns ($687 million) for the fourth quarter.

In economic news, French industrial production declined in November, defying expectations for a modest increase, preliminary data from the statistical office INSEE showed.

Industrial production decreased a seasonally and working-day adjusted 1.3 percent, reversing a similar size increase in the previous month. Economists had expected production to remain unchanged.

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