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Europe close: Shares dip as ECB keeps policy 'steady' but says there are still downside risks

European shares were mostly lower on Thursday remained as the single currency gained altitude following the European Central Bank's policy meeting.

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ECB keeps 'steady' stance, ready to adjust policy if needed Lagarde says

The European Central Bank kept all of its policy levers unchanged but did leave the door open to further easing if needed.

London close: Stocks weaker as ECB leaves policy unchanged

London stocks closed in the red on Thursday, as investors digested the latest policy announcement from the European Central Bank.

Friday preview: Global manufacturing, UK consumer confidence in focus

The focus at the end of the week will shift to the release of a raft of factory and services sector Purchasing Managers Indices in the UK, US and euro area.

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Broker tips: Ashtead, Cairn Energy, Hiscox, Sainsburys

Deutsche Bank upgraded its stance on equipment rental firm Ashtead to 'buy' from 'hold' on Thursday and hiked the price target to 4,100p from 3,000p, based on "growth opportunity and lower cyclicality", as it said the Specialty business was a game changer.

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Director dealings: Halfords CEO makes share sale

Halfords Group revealed on Thursday that chief executive Graham Stapleton had disposed of 185,872 ordinary shares in the London-listed retailer.

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ECSC Group earnings rise as revenues slip

Cybersecurity service provider ECSC Group said on Thursday that its adjusted EBITDA profit for 2020 was in excess of £0. 4m, rising from the breakeven it achieved in 2019.

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FTSE 250 movers: Ibstock rallies on update; IG moves lower

London’s FTSE 250 was down 0. 1% at 20,852. 79 in afternoon trade on Thursday.

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Keystone Law reports 'exceptionally strong' December trading

Challenger law firm Keystone Law updated the market ahead of the end of its financial year on Thursday, reporting that trading throughout December and early January had been “exceptionally strong”.

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Anglo Asian Mining contract areas restored after conflict

Azerbaijan-focussed gold, copper and silver producer Anglo Asian Mining updated the market on its three restored contract areas in formerly-occupied territories and Nagorno Karabakh on Thursday, following the agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia ending the military conflict over the enclave of Nagorno Karabakh.

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US open: Stocks record early gains on Biden's first full day in office

Wall Street stocks opened higher on Thursday after major indices hit fresh record highs on Inauguration Day.

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FTSE 100 movers: Informa hit by downgrade; Sage on the rise

London’s FTSE 100 was down 0. 3% at 6,720. 11 in afternoon trade on Thursday.

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US housing starts grow more quickly than expected in December

Homebuilding in the US continued to accelerate at a brisk pace at the tail-end of the previous year.

Pandemic forces at least 9m Britons to borrow more money in 2020

Around nine million Britons were forced to borrow more money as of December of 2020 due to the hit to their personal finances from the pandemic, a study by the Office of National Statistics showed.

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Twitter blocks Chinese US embassy account after tweets defending Xinjiang policies

Twitter locked the account of China’s US embassy after it posted a tweet defending China’s policy towards Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Thursday broker round-up

Hiscox: Jefferies downgrades to hold with a target price of 1,000p.

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UK will not grant EU ambassador full diplomatic status

The Foreign Office refused to deny the European Union’s ambassador full diplomatic status over claims that the bloc should not be treated as a nation state.

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China imposes sanctions on top Trump officials

China has imposed sanctions on 28 Trump administration officials including former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for violating its sovereignty.

Philly Fed index beats expectations in January

Manufacturing conditions in the Philadelphia region improved significantly in January, according to a survey released on Thursday.

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Beckhams pay themselves £20m as fashion arm posts losses

David and Victoria Beckham paid themselves more than £20m from their sport and media empire since 2019 as their fashion business suffered bigger losses and breached loan terms during the Covid-19 crisis, according to a report.