Euro zone stocks bounced off session lows to end little changed on Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) signalled it will only slightly reduce its emergency bond purchases over the coming quarter.
The ECB gave no signal of its next policy move, offering little detail about how it might dismantle its €1.85 trillion Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, which is set to run until at least March 2022.
Analysts now expect the ECB to outline plans for major policy changes by December.
The Iseq edged back into positive territory near the end of the session, closing up 0.2 per cent on the day.
AIB added 1 per cent to €2.37 and Bank of Ireland nudged up 0.1 per cent to €5.01, while there was also a modest gain for building materials group CRH, which closed 0.3 per cent at €43.63.
Amid sectoral news involving rival EasyJet, Ryanair dropped 0.2 per cent to €15.82, while there was a 0.65 per cent decline for packaging group Smurfit Kappa, which ended at €48.73.
Dalata Hotel Group added 1.1 per cent to €3.54, while Cairn Homes was another climber, finishing 1.2 per cent higher at €1.14.
Britain's export-heavy FTSE 100 ended lower on Thursday weighed down by a strengthening sterling on currency markets and concerns over slowing economic growth, while EasyJet's share sale plan sent the airline to the bottom of the mid-cap index. The airline tumbled 10.2 per cent after it rejected a takeover approach from Wizz Air, opting instead to raise $1.7 billion (€1.4 billion) from shareholders and go it alone in an industry battling to recover from the pandemic.
The blue-chip index ended down 1 per cent, recording its worst session in three weeks with consumer staple and pharmaceutical stocks weighing the most. The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index fell 0.2 per cent.
Dollar-earning consumer staples stocks, including Unilever, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, shed between 1.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent on a stronger pound.
Aer Lingus and British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) fell 1.1 per cent, while Wizz Air dropped 1.2 per cent, weighing on the wider travel and leisure index.
After falling as much as 0.9 per cent in morning trade, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended largely unchanged around 467.57 points. The index had shed 1.5 per cent over the past two days on fears of a more-hawkish-than-expected ECB.
Rate-sensitive banking stocks in the bloc rose 0.2 per cent, while real estate stocks led gains with a 1 per cent rise.
After hitting record highs in mid-August, the Stoxx 600 has traded below those levels amid investor worries over the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant, a slowing economic recovery, and the withdrawal of stimulus by major central banks.
With Chinese gaming stocks coming under pressure from fresh regulatory scrutiny, Dutch investor Prosus, which has a stake in Chinese tech giant Tencent, fell 5.2 per cent.
European video-gaming stocks Ubisoft and Embracer fell 1.6 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.
Wall Street indexes held steady as weekly jobless claims fell to a near 18-month low, allaying fears of a slowing economic recovery.
The economy-sensitive S&P 500 financial sector index and the banking sub-index were among the top gainers, rising about 0.7 per cent each in the first hours of trading. JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citi Group and Morgan Stanley gained between 1.1 per cent and 1.6 per cent, tracking a slight rise in benchmark bond yields following the data.
The defensive real estate, utilities and consumer staples sectors traded lower, however. Video game retailer GameStop fell 3.2 per cent on the company's silence on its turnaround plan in its first post-earnings conference call by its new chief executive.
– Additional reporting: Reuters