Europe close: Stocks shake off early losses, but led by Oil and Gas, and Utilities
European shares were mostly higher on Thursday reversing early losses triggered by worries over rising government bond yields on both sides of the Atlantic.
"It has been a closely-fought contest this afternoon between buyers and sellers but overall it looks like the buyers might be gaining the upper hand ahead of a speech by [Federal Reserve chairman] Jerome Powell," said IG chief market analyst Chris Beauchamp.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.37% to 411.91, but the Cac-40 managed to poke its head above water, adding 0.01% to 5,830.65, while Spain's Ibex 35 climbed 0.30% to 8,354.0.
Nevertheless, trading on Thursday had a distinctively defensive air to it, with the Stoxx 600 gauge for Utilities one of the best market groups and rising by 1.68%.
Oil&Gas issues also did well, climbing 1.74% after OPEC+ surprised traders with a decision to hold the group's crude oil output levels unchanged.
That sent Brent to near a 52-week high atop $67.27 a barrel on the ICE.
Technology shares on the other hand continued to be unloved with the Stoxx 600 sector gauge falling by 3.31%.
German 10-year bund yields meanwhile were off by two basis points at -0.31%, tracking a dip in those for similarly-dated US Treasuries ahead of Powell's speech scheduled for 1705 GMT.
Overnight, the yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury hit 1.477%, although it remained well off the one-year high of 1.614% recorded the week before.
In a further boost for investor sentiment, German finance minister Olaf Scholz told Bloomberg that Berlin was planning extra debt-finance spending in 2021, although he refused to be drawn on reports that Germany was planning €50bn more in government outlays.
In equity news, shares in German airline Lufthansa fell after it posted record losses for 2020 and trimmed its 2021 capacity plans as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to hit its markets.
Vistry shares rose as the Housebuilder reported better-than-expected annual profits and resumed dividend payments driven by a strong second half performance.