By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
European stocks gained on Thursday, with investors bidding auto makers and pharmaceuticals higher in the face of data showing a stagnating economy.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.59% to 397.37. Of the 600 constituents, 39 reported results, and the average reaction to the earnings was better than the index, says George Pearkes, macro strategist at Bespoke Investment Group.
Speculation that the European Union will grant the U.K. an extension to Brexit also helped buoy sentiment.
The German DAX increased 0.58% to 12872.10, the French CAC 40 gained 0.55% to 5684.33 and the U.K. FTSE 100 rose 0.91% to 7236.81.
The European Central Bank didn't change interest rates in the last meeting with Mario Draghi as president . During the press conference, Draghi said weak personal managers index data justified the ECB easing package in August. On Thursday, new figures showed the flash eurozone composite purchasing managers index barely staying over the 50 mark in October.
The outlook in Germany in particular was worrisome, with the services PMI falling to a 37-month low.
AstraZeneca provided the largest upward pull to the Stoxx 600, with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical rising 5.6% as cancer drug sales drove better-than-forecast third-quarter sales and profit.
Daimler rose 3.3% as the German auto maker reported a better-than-forecast operating profit .
Nokia (NOKIA.HE) plunged 24% as the Finnish telecom equipment maker lowered its guidance for this year and next , citing margin pressure, more 5G investments and additional digitalization investments. The company also cited high costs linked to first-generation 5G products, profitability challenges in China and pricing pressure in early 5G deals.