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European Stocks Close Broadly Higher On Economic Optimism

European stock closed slightly higher on Thursday amid rising optimism about global economic recovery after data showed another drop in U.S. jobless claims.

Investors also digested a slew of economic data and earnings announcements from the euro area.

The pan European Stoxx 600 advanced 0.27%. France's CAC 40 gained 0.69%, while Germany's DAX and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slid 0.28% and 0.1%, respectively. Switzerland's SMI edged down 0.07%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Sweden ended higher.

Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Spain and Turkey closed weak.

In the UK market, Antofagasta gained nearly 5%, Glencore climbed 4.6% and Ashtead Group gained 4.4%. Fresnillo, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Melrose Industries, Aviva, M&G and Lloyds Banking Group gained 3 to 4%.

Johnson Matthey, Imperial Brands, Taylor Wimpey, Intertek Group, Severn Trent, DCC, Croda International Group, Unilever, Barratt Developments, Reckitt Benckiser, Berkeley Holdings, Royal Dutch Shell and Kingfisher lost 2 to 4%.

In France, Airbus shares soared more than 9% after signaling confidence in the recovery of the aviation industry from the pandemic.

Technip, ArcelorMittal, Safran, Faurecia, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Valeo and Renault gained 2.5 to 5%.

Capgemini, Sanofi, Engie, Dassault Systemes, Teleperformance and Total shed 1 to 2%.

In the German market, Deutsche Post rallied more than 4%, Vonovia gained 3.2% and MTU Aero Engines climbed nearly 2.5%. Covestro, Volkswagen, BMW, Lufthansa, Continental, Deutsche Bank and HeidelbergCement also ended notably higher.

Bayer shed more about 5% after a federal judge rejected the company's $2 billion Roundup settlement, saying in an order it would not adequately address the concerns of families who may later be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Shares of German sportswear firm Puma drifted lower after France's Kering said it is selling a 5.9% in the company.

In economic releases, German consumer confidence is set to improve in June, market research group GfK said earlier today.

The forward-looking consumer confidence index rose to -7.0 in June from revised -8.6 in May. Nonetheless, the reading was weaker than the economists' forecast of -5.2.

A report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said car production in the U.K. increased sharply in April compared to the pandemic hit month in 2020 but remained below its 2019 level.

Factories manufactured 68,306 cars in April compared to just 197 a year ago when Covid restrictions effectively halted manufacturing. The performance was 3.8% below the April 2019 output. So far this year UK factories have turned out 374,864 cars, which were up by 17.3%.

Switzerland's exports increased at a softer pace in April, data from the Federal Customs Administration showed. Exports rose by a real 0.1% month-on-month in April, after a 5.1% growth in March.

Imports rose 2.2% monthly in April, after a 3.7% increase in the previous month. The trade surplus decreased to CHF 3.291 billion in April from CHF 3.873 billion in March.

According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, watch exports rose 2% year-on-year in April.

In news from the U.S., data released by the Labor Department showed weekly jobless claims once again fell to a new pandemic-era low. The report said initial jobless claims slid to 406,000 in the week ended May 22nd, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 444,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 425,000.

Jobless claims decreased for the fourth consecutive week, once again falling to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

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