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European Shares Extend Gains For Third Day

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European stocks rose for a third straight session on Thursday as investors brushed off fears about the spread of Delta coronavirus variant and looked ahead to the European Central Bank for reassurance that policy support will continue for some time.

The ECB meting outcome is due at 1145 GMT, followed by a news conference with its president Christine Lagarde at 1230 GMT.

The pan European Stoxx 600 rose 0.7 percent to 457.06, moving close to its record high of 461.38 points reached last week.

The German DAX climbed 0.8 percent, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.6 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent.

Publicis rallied 3.7 percent. The French advertising giant reported strong second-quarter growth, reflecting an industry resurgence from the worst of the pandemic.

Swiss technology and engineering firm ABB rose nearly 2 percent. The company doubled its full-year sales outlook and said it's considering a spin-off of its electric vehicle charging business.

Drug major Roche declined 1.3 percent after reporting a fall in first-half profit.

British housebuilder Barratt Developments surged 2.6 percent and Taylor Wimpey added 2.3 percent after data released earlier this week showed U.K. house sales hit record levels in June.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread advanced 2.8 percent and transport firm FirstGroup soared 4 percent on expectations they will reap the benefits of reopening.

Real estate investment trust Workspace Group gained 2.4 percent after saying it was witnessing demand at pre-pandemic levels.

British Gas owner Centrica dropped 1.4 percent after it reported broadly flat operating profit for the first six months of 2021.

Consumer goods group Unilever plunged almost 5 percent after it announced a drop in first-half profits on rising costs.

In economic news, French manufacturing confidence strengthened to the highest level in more than three years in July largely driven by the assessment of foreign orders and personal production expectations, survey results from the statistical office Insee showed.

The manufacturing sentiment index advanced to 110 in July from 108 in June. This was the highest score since April 2018 and above economists' forecast of 107.

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