Europe close: Investors move to the sidelines ahead of US tech earnings, 3 Nov. elections
Stocks on the Continent ended the session little changed as investors chose to sit on their hands ahead of a barrage of earnings results from US tech giants Apple, Amazon and Facebook which were scheduled for release after the close of trading on Wall Street.
A recent spike in volatility had likely also left investors rattled and there was of course the uncertainty around the 3 November US elections to contend with.
Nevertheless, at the presser following the European Central Bank governing council's policy meeting, its chief, Christine Lagarde, delivered on investors' expectations, acknowledging that there were "clear, clear" downside risks to growth and telling the assembled journalists the council was quite ready to meet again "at short notice" if needed.
Against that backdrop, the Stoxx 600 ended 0.12% lower at 341.76, albeit alongside a gain of 0.32% to 11,598.07 for the German Dax.
"Markets have enjoyed a welcome reprieve from the incessant selling that has dominated the week thus far," said IG senior market analyst Josh Mahony.
"With the impending US expected to clear the way for a multi-trillion stimulus package, traders will be weighing up whether this current move towards a second lockdown should be enough to tip the scale into a full market capitulation."
Helping the Dax was a 0.75% retreat for euro/dollar to 1.1658, a clear symptom of risk aversion.
The Stoxx 600's sector gauge for Technology paced gains on Thursday ahead of those US tech sector earnings reports.
Oil&Gas also put in some gains, as Shell defied the near-term economic angst, and a 2.9% drop in Brent crude oil futures to $37.97 a barrel on Thursday by going ahead and raising its dividend payout.
Also helping to steady sentiment was a further improvement in the German labour market in October with jobless claims down by an outsized 35,000 (consensus: -5,000).
In parallel, Eurostat reported that economic sentiment across the single currency bloc was steady during the same month, instead of the large drop that economists had penciled-in.