LONDON: A dovish statement from the ECB on Thursday (Jan 24) helped European stocks while investors largely shrugged off comments that the US and China are far from a deal to resolve their trade dispute.
European markets started the day off on the downside after surveys showed eurozone business growth is at its lowest level in five-and-a-half years.
The surveys reinforced mounting concern about the economy, as markets fret over Brexit, slowing Chinese growth and the fallout from US-led global trade tensions.
While the European Central Bank, as expected, held its interest rates steady, it also indicated it had the tools to deal with a slowdown in growth.
"Healthy earnings reports and an arguably dovish ECB have helped markets recover from morning losses, shrugging off comments by the US commerce secretary, who poured cold water on the idea of a near-term resolution to the US-China standoff," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG.
In the eurozone, Frankfurt stocks added 0.5 per cent and Paris rose 0.7 per cent.
The euro slid on the prospect of further ECB measures to aid the economy.
London stocks finished the day down 0.4 per cent, with Brexit uncertainty continuing to weigh on investors.
US car giant Ford on Thursday said a no-deal Brexit could result in the company taking an US$800-million hit in 2019 due to new tariffs and a falling pound.
And Airbus chief Tom Enders warned the European aerospace giant could make "very harmful decisions" for Britain if it leaves the European Union without a deal, and called the government's handling of Brexit a "disgrace".
TRADE DEAL 'MILES' AWAY
Meanwhile comments from US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the United States and China are "miles and miles" from resolving their trade war didn't help investor sentiment, although he also said there is still "a fair chance" of reaching a deal with Beijing.
On Wall Street, a heavy calendar of earnings produced a run of mostly strong results, with American Airlines surging five percent after projecting stronger-than-expected profits in 2019.
Jobs data also helped reassure investors about the US economy.
New claims for jobless benefits last week sank to the lowest level in nearly 50 years, signalling continued strength of the US labour market.
Nearing midday, US stocks were mixed, with the Dow dipping 0.2 per cent.
Earlier, Asian equities swung to and fro, with few solid catalysts to drive trade.
Key figures around 1630 GMT:
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 per cent at 6,818.95 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 per cent at 11,130.18 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 per cent at 4,871.96 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 per cent at 3,125.75
New York - DOW: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 24,527.81
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 20,574.63 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.4 per cent at 27,120.98 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.4 per cent at 2,591.69 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1345 from US$1.1381 at 2200 GMT Wednesday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3040 from US$1.3069
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.59 yen from 109.60
Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 14 cents at US$61.00 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 22 cents at US$52.84 per barrel