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European Markets End Higher

European markets ended higher on Thursday, with investors digesting a slew of earnings reports and tracking developments on the Brexit front.

The pan European Stoxx 600 ended higher by 0.78%, mirroring a strong display by almost all sectors and major markets in the zone. Among the major indices in Europe, France's CAC 40 gained 0.82%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX closed higher by 0.37% and 0.13%, respectively. Switzerland's SMI gained 1.01%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden ended with sharp to moderate gains.

Belgium, Spain and Turkey edged up marginally, while Russia closed weak.

In Germany Lufthansa declined more than 6% on sharp drop in fourth quarter operating profits. Wirecard finished lower by about 8.7%, while Adidas ended higher by 3.3%. Thyssenkrupp, RWE, Deutsche Post and Merck also ended sharply higher.

French stocks Technip, Essilor, Vinci and Accor gained 2 to 5%. Louis Vuitton, Unibail Rodamco, Saint Gobain, L'Oreal, Orange, Pernod Ricard, Michelin, Hermes International and Danone also ended notably higher.

British stocks BAE Systems, Babcock International, Associated British Foods, Hammerson and Aviva ended higher.

Anglo American, Hikma Pharma, Antofagasta, BHP Group, CRH and Fresnillo ended with sharp to moderate losses.

Italian stock Leonardo jumped about 13% on higher earnings.

On Brexit front, after rejecting a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, the U.K. Lawmakers today debated on whether to delay departure from the European Union before going to vote on second referendum amendment.

In economic news from Europe, Germany's consumer price inflation accelerated for the first time in four months in February, but was less than initially expected, final data from Destatis showed on Thursday.

The consumer price index rose 1.5% year-on-year in February, following a 1.4% rise in January. The latest figure was slightly smaller than the 1.6% flash estimate.

In France, consumer price inflation rose for the first time in seven months in February, final figures from the statistical office INSEE showed on Thursday.

The consumer price index rose 1.3% year-on-year in February, after a 1.2 percent rise in January, was in line with the flash data.

The Swiss government's experts cut the growth forecast for this year further, citing weaker demand for the country's exports due to the slowdown in the global economy and trade.

The GDP growth forecast for this year was trimmed to 1.1% from 1.5% predicted in December, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, or SECO, said Thursday. The Swiss economy grew 2.5% in 2018, which was faster than the 1.6% expansion in the previous year.

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