Europe Benchmarks Pare Losses but Caution Remains

Europe benchmarks pared losses in late morning trading while French and Spanish stocks moved into the black.

The reversal came as investors began to shrug off concerns over an imminent tightening of global financial conditions, brought about by Federal Open Market Committee's Wednesday suggestion that the Fed could soon begin to shrink its balance sheet.

It also followed a morning speech given by Mario Draghi in which the European Central Bank chief said that further recovery in the euro area is dependent continued support of current monetary policies.

Draghi's speech ran counter to some of the more hawkish noises to have emerged from the ECB in recent times and may have been seen as a distinct positive for the weaker of the large European economies, such as Spain and France.

The CAC 40 was up 0.28%, to 5,105, in Paris following a complete reversal of the morning's losses. Equally, the IBEX was up by nearly 0.50%, after having come back from similar sized loss in the earlier hours.

The FTSE 100 in London was quoted at 7,306, down 0.34% on the session, while the DAX was 0.19% lower, at 12,193, in Frankfurt.

Spain's biggest mover on the upside was fashion retailer Inditex (IDEXY) , which owns Zara the world's largest apparel brand, after the shares gained nearly 2.5%.

Luxury goods stocks were strong throughout much of the morning, despite weakness elsewhere, although Inditex may also have benefited from a Reuters report that showed founder Amancio Ortega making provisions to ensure that the retailer remains under the control of his family when the 81 year old  dies.

In Paris, commercial property firm Unibail Rodamco (UNBLF) was the top riser on the CAC, with a gain of more than 1%, having been a beneficiary of Draghi's suggestion that the ECB will remain easy for at least the foreseeable future.

Markets elsewhere were still affected by laggards from across the banking, industrials segments.

Commerzbank (CRZBY) and BMW (BMWYY) were the top fallers in Frankfurt, with losses of just more than 1% each.

The banking sector has been a frequent underperformer during the recent week although this could have been encouraged on Thursday when Draghi stepped back from the ECB's earlier suggestions that it could be moving to a more hawkish footing.

BMW outperformed all other German autos in the race to the bottom of the DAX Thursday, although the performance of European auto stocks during the session is merely a continuation of the recent trend, set in motion by weaker than expected U.S. car sales numbers on Monday and some mixed data out of Europe.

Renault (RNSDF) , Daimler (DDAIF) , Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Peugeot (PEUGF) all printed losses during the morning half of Thursday's session.

In London, Pearson (PSO) , Lloyds Banking Group (LYG) , Aviva (AVVIY) and Paddy Power Betfair (PDYPF) , all continued to top the list of fallers on Thursday, as ex-dividend dates weighed on investors' appetite for the stocks.

Other fallers included WPP (WPPGY) , Next (NXGPY) and Astrazeneca (AZN) , which were all down more than 1%.

WPP stock slipped after Unilever (UL) , a key client and recently a target of Kraft-Heinz (HNZ) , took an ax to its advertising budget.

Unilever said it is looking to double savings in overheads and advertising before 2020.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company was targeting €1 billion ($1.06 billion) of savings over the coming years but will now seek to remove a full €2 billion from this part of its cost base.

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