(Reuters) – European shares ended little changed on Thursday, as a surge in material stocks and Rolls-Royce helped counter downbeat business activity data from the region and Brexit trade deal uncertainty.
London’s FTSE 100 reversed losses to hit a six-month high, up 0.4%, with miners Rio Tinto, Glencore and Anglo American providing the biggest boosts on record iron ore prices and buoyant copper.
Rolls-Royce surged 16% to top London’s blue-chip index, as well as the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark after a report said it was considering a possible re-entry into the narrow-body jetliner market.
Betting firm Flutter Entertainment was also among the top gainers on the STOXX 600 index, climbing 6%, after a $4.18 billion deal to increase its FanDuel holding to 95% and end Fastball’s involvement in online sports betting platform FOX Bet.
Ireland’s main ISEQ index jumped 2% to close at a near 11-month high.
Keeping sentiment in check was cautious comments on a post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union. Significant gaps still remain on three main issues at the negotiations, EU officials said.
“We think that eventually some kind of a very limited deal will be agreed upon at the very last minute,” said Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank in Amsterdam, warning that there may not be too many details nor an overarching agreement.
Discussions around the EU budget, as well as U.S. jobs data due on Friday are among other events on investors’ radar, Mevissen added.
Meanwhile, IHS Markit’s composite PMI on Thursday showed euro zone business activity contracted sharply last month, with services PMI sinking to 41.7 from October’s 46.9.
Germany’s DAX led declines on the day, down 0.5%, while France’s CAC 40 lost 0.2%.
The STOXX 600 has recovered about 45% from March lows, with November’s bumper rally lifting it from a downtrend, but it still remains close to 10% below its highs this year.
While Europe looks to expected monetary policy easing from the European Central Bank next week, in the United States there were early signs that a $908 billion bipartisan proposal could be gaining traction as a negotiating tool for fresh relief for the pandemic-hit economy.
“The key message (from the ECB) will be that (it) is committed to administering its medicine for a long time, even as the economy gets back to health,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)