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04 Mar 2021 | 17:01

Europe close: Stocks shake off early losses, but led by Oil and Gas, and Utilities

(Sharecast News) - 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.

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