European equity benchmarks were extending gains on Thursday morning, buoyed by strong earning results and rising oil prices which provided a fillip to commodities stocks.
Oil futures prices were extending gains after US inventory data showed a smaller-than-expected rise in US inventories on Wednesday. US stockpiles of crude oil rose by 1.8 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration compared to forecasts for a 3.9 million barrel jump. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, the main US benchmark, were 1.0% higher at $61.19 per barrel while Brent crude, the international gauge, was 0.5% higher at $64.66 per barrel at the time of writing.
In economic news, the Eurozone posted a surplus for international trade in goods of 25.4 billion euros ($31.71 billion) in December, according to data published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU). Eurostat's first estimate for Eurozone exports of goods to the rest of the world in December was 180.7 billion euros, an increase of 1.0% compared to a year earlier. Imports from the rest of the world stood at 155.3 billion euros, up 2.5% compared with a year earlier.
In equities, financial services company Old Mutual (OML.L) was leading the gainers on London's FTSE 100 Index, up by 3.9%, followed by steel-making and mining company Evraz (EVR.L), 3.2% higher and packaging and paper group Mondi (MNDI), up by 3.1%. Commodities company Anglo American (AAL.L) was 3.0% higher.
On Frankfurt's DAX, industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp (TKA.DE) was trading 2.8% higher, Commerzbank (CBK.DE) and Deutsche Bank (DBK.DE), were up by 2.7% and 2.2%, respectively, while media company ProSiebenSat1 Media (PSM.DE) was 1.5% higher.
And, on Paris' CAC-40, Airbus (AIR.DE), a manufacturer of aircraft parts, was leading the gainers, up by 9.3%, after reporting that it had overachieved on its 2017 guidance for all key performance indicators, driven by a strong underlying performance. Energy company Schneider Electric (SU.PA) was 4.3% higher after posting full year results which showed its highest ever results for adjusted earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA) which were supported by an acceleration in sales. Peugeot (UG.PA), an automobile manufacturer, was up by 2.5% and oilfield services company TechnipFMC (FTI.PA) was 2.3% higher.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index was 0.64% higher, London's FTSE 100 Index was up by 0.52%, Frankfurt's DAX was up by 0.60% and Paris' CAC-40 was 1.18% higher at the time of writing.