European stock markets ended mixed on Thursday afternoon as investors reacted to fresh earnings and soaring oil prices.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed at 0, with major bourses and business sectors pointing in different directions.
Europe’s household goods led the losses, tumbling throughout the day to close 1.9 percent lower. Unilever was among the sector’s worst performers after the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant reported sales figures that were largely in line with expectations during the first three months of the year. The maker of Dove soap also said it remained confident shareholders would support its decision to change the corporate structure of the firm. Shares of Unilever closed roughly 2.2 percent in the red.
Meanwhile, media stocks rallied during the day’s trade, closing 1.7 percent higher. France’s Publicis Group posted better-than-expected underlying sales growth in the first-quarter on Thursday, supported by a bounce in North American activities. Its shares closed 7.4 percent to the upside, topping the European benchmark.
Britain’s Weir Group was the third best performing stock, with its shares closing 6.2 percent higher. The firm, which makes pumps and valves for mining and energy industries, announced it would try to purchase U.S.-based ESCO Corp for an equity value of over $1 billion.
Irish drug-maker Shire performed well following news that the firm’s board had rejected a takeover bid from Japanese pharma company Takeda. Talks between the two companies remain ongoing. Shire’s shares closed up 5.9 percent, though they had traded even higher earlier on in the afternoon.
Swiss engineering firm ABB also saw a strong day’s trading, with shares closing 4.6 percent in the green. The company released its first quarter earnings report Thursday which revealed a better-than-expected first quarter net profit of $572 million, beating forecasts of $562 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.