European shares inched higher on Thursday as investors awaited key US labour data.
In the US the S&P 500 and the Dow rose, helped by economy-linked stocks after the labour data, released after European markets closed, showed fewer weekly jobless claims, bolstering optimism about economic recovery.
The Iseq index rose almost 0.8 per cent, driven by a surge in Irish banks. AIB rose by almost 3 per cent to €2.63, while Bank of Ireland finished the session ahead by almost 4 per cent to €5.36.
Glenveagh Property rose by 2.45 per cent to 96 cent per share following comments at its agm by its chief executive Stephen Garvey, who said house prices could rise by 5 per cent this year. The company said it was on track to build 1,150 homes this year despite the Covid-19 lockdown, while it had sold, signed or had reservations for all properties.
Ryanair rose almost 1.6 per cent to €16.79 as its chief executive called on the Government to reopen travel with the UK, and he also dismissed "scare stories" over the Indian variant.
British midcaps edged higher, outperforming the blue-chip index for a third straight session, led by gains in Meggitt and real estate stocks, while Equiniti Group jumped after agreeing to a take-private deal.
The domestically focused FTSE 250 index rose 0.1 per cent, with aero and defence stocks adding 1.5 per cent. Meggitt gained 2.9 per cent after UBS upgraded the stock to "neutral" from "sell".
The FTSE 100 traded flat, with base metal miners adding 2 per cent and offsetting losses in oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell.
Johnson Matthey slipped 2.3 per cent after the chemicals-maker warned that rising metal prices could hit its cash flow.
Insurer Aviva rose 2.6 per cent after it recorded steady sales performance in its life insurance business and a 4 per cent rise in general insurance, and repeated its promise to give cash back to shareholders.
British processed foods-maker Tate & Lyle shed more than 5 per cent after its annual revenue fell.
HSBC fell 0.2 per cent after the British bank said it was exiting its US retail business to focus on Asia, its biggest market.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.1 per cent to 445.76 points, just below Tuesday’s record high of 447.15.
French planemaker Airbus was among the best performers, rising 6 per cent after it set out sweeping goals to expand production of jetliners as the airline industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
German shares shed around 0.4 per cent, lagging other regional markets, with Bayer the biggest drag on the Dax, falling more than 4 per cent. The stock was set for its worst day in three months after a US judge rejected its class action plan to settle future claims related to its Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers.
Puma fell 2 per cent after French luxury goods group Kering said it will sell a 5.9 per cent stake in the German sportswear firm through a share placement.
US planemaker Boeing added about 3.8 per cent after its European rival Airbus outlined an almost two-fold increase in production, citing a strong recovery in aviation from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nvidia forecast second-quarter revenue above analysts' estimates, but its shares fell 1 per cent as the company could not say for certain how much of its recent revenue rise was driven by the volatile cryptocurrency-mining market.
Best Buy gained 2.6 per cent after it raised its full-year comparable sales forecast as stimulus checks boosted demand.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.65-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and seven new lows. – Additional reporting: Reuters