Europe close: Stocks push higher despite concerns around US-China trade
European stocks pushed towards five month highs as investors spy a possible light at the end of the tunnel in talks between London and Brussels, although German shares were hampered by the country's top economics research institute's decision to take an axe to its growth forecasts .
Overnight, the British parliament voted in favour of avoiding a so-called 'hard Brexit' under all scenarios and was expected to request an extension to Article 50 later on Thursday, although in remarks to ITV one member of the pro-Brexit European Research group suggested that hardliners might still be able to force a 'no-deal Brexit'.
Against that backdrop, CMC Markets UK's David Madden said: "Stock markets are largely higher this afternoon as MPs made it clear yesterday they are not in favour of a no deal Brexit. Traders understand what UK lawmakers don’t want, but they are still unclear as to that they do want. Westminster will remain in focus today as MPs are set to vote on whether article 50 should be extended or not."
By the end of trading, the benchmark Stoxx 600 was ahead by 0.78% to 378.52, alongside a 0.82% gain for the Cac-40 to 5,349.78 and an advance of 0.62% to 20,877.43 for the FTSE Mibtel.
Germany's Dax however added just 0.13% to 11,587.47.
In parallel, euro/dollar was dipping 0.22% to 1.1305 and front month Brent crude oil futures were adding 0.66% to trade at $67.11 a barrel on the ICE.
To take note of, the Continent's main stockmarket indices rose despite reports that a trade deal between the US and China will not materialise until April - at the earliest - and news that Germany's most prestigious economic think-tank had taken an axe to its forecast for the rate of growth in the country's GDP in 2019.
Regarding the latter, Germany's IFO institute slashed its forecast for the country's economic growth in 2019 from 1.1% to 0.6%, although it did raise its projection for 2020 to 1.8%.
They also overcame an indicative vote in the European Parliament against launching trade talks with Washington, prompting a threat from the US President unless the EU was willing to hold talks.
In other economic news, INSEE revised higher its initial estimate for French harmonised consumer prices in February from a preliminary reading of 1.5% year-on-year to 1.6% (consensus: 1.5%).
Over in Germany on the other hand, the Federal Office of Statistics confirmed a previous estimate showing a 1.7% rate of increase for harmonised CPI during that same month.