European stocks were buoyed Thursday by an automotive sector in rude health, recovering commodity prices and the latest developments in Britain's election campaign.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party saw its poll lead narrow further Thursday after representatives failed to move the electoral dial in their favor during a televised debate on Wednesday night.

Most polls show the incumbent with a low single-digit lead when it comes to the popular vote, down from close to 20% some six weeks ago, and some have even suggested that she may lose her majority in parliament.

The development has raised hopes in some parts of the market that a reduced majority or possible coalition government might be able to force the government to step back from a complete exit from the European Union.

This is while Brent crude, aluminum and copper futures prices were all higher for the Thursday session

London's FTSE 100 index added 0.32% to close at 7,543 although it failed to best Wednesday's record high.

Paris' CAC 40 was the standout performer among major markets in Europe after posting a gain of 0.66% to close at 5,318. In Frankfurt, the DAX rose by 0.40% to close at 12,664.

Over in southern Europe benchmarks were mixed with the IBEX in Madrid notching up a loss for the session while the FTSE MIB, in Milan, posted a gain of nearly 1%.

In individual stocks, Barclays (BCS) - Get Report stock gained close to 2% before paring gains after the British lender said it sold a near $3 billion stake in its South African subsidiary, a larger portion than was expected by the market. The stock was also a big mover in London Wednesday.

In Paris, Renault (RNSDF) and Peugeot (PEUGF) led the European autos sector higher Thursday, with gains of more than 2% each, after data from France's CCFA Automobile Association showed car registrations rising strongly during May.

CCFA said that passenger car registrations rose by 8.9% during May, when compared with the same period one year ago, while year to date deliveries were up by 3.3% on 2016.

Robust car sales data for France appeared to have a positive effect on sentiment across the sector as BMW (BMWYY) and Volkswagen (VLKAY) both topped the DAX index in Frankfurt also.

Elsewhere Banco Popular (BPESF) stock fell 15%, pushing Spain's IBEX to a session loss, after Reuters reported that European officials are contingency planning for a scenario where they are forced to wind up the lender over its mammoth pile of bad loans.

In the Netherlands, shares of Dulux paint maker Akzo Nobel (AKZOY) stock gained 0.21% after U.S. rival PPG Industries(PPG) - Get Report abandoned its pursuit of its Dutch rival.

The takeover target had rejected three separate offers from the Elliott Management backed PPG and defeated a courtroom bid by the suitor to remove its chairman, in the name of governance, who had played a key role in fighting off the Transatlantic attack.