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European Equity Benchmarks Close Higher; Bank of England Holds Rates, Europe Inflation Rises 2%

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The broad-based major European indices closed higher in Thursday's trading session, as mining stocks help lift the markets for the second day in a row.

In economic news, euro area annual inflation was 2.0% in February, up from 1.8% in January, and compared to -0.2% for February of 2016, reports Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. European Union annual inflation was 1.9% in February, up from 1.7% in January, and -0.1% for January of 2016.

The lowest annual rates for February were registered in Ireland (0.3%), Romania (0.5%), Bulgaria and Denmark (both 0.9%). The highest annual rates were recorded in Estonia (3.4%), Belgium (3.3%), Latvia and Lithuania (both 3.2%). Compared with January 2017, annual inflation fell in three member states and rose in 24.

In the U.K., the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 to maintain the bank rate at 0.25%. The Bank also voted unanimously to continue with the program of sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bond purchases, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, totaling up to GBP10 billion ($12.36 billion).

"The Committee expects a slowdown in aggregate demand over the course of this year, as household demand growth declines in reaction to lower real income growth," said the Bank in a statement.

The move sent the pound sharply higher, rising 0.63% to $1.23650

In Germany, there was a surge in home construction in 2016 as the construction of a total of 375,400 dwellings was permitted in Germany in 2016, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). That is an increase of 21.6% or 66,700 dwellings from 2015.

In equities, surging mining stocks led the FTSE higher for the second consecutive session as as Anglo American, Glencore International, and Antofagasta climbed 8.3%, 4.4%, and 4.2% respectively. Fresnillo, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Randgold Resources gained 3.5%, 3.1%, 2.7%, and 2.4%.

In Frankfurt, Deutsche Lufthansa led the DAX higher, rising 5.5% after the airline said it expects significantly higher revenue in 2017. Postal services firm Deutsche Post, footwear and apparel retailer Adidas, and bank Commerzbank gained 1.9%, 1.8%, and 1.7% respectively.

And in Paris, commercial real estate company Unibail Rodamco led the CAC into positive territory, rising 2.5%, as did shopping center operator Klepierre, and steel and mining company ArcelorMittal, each of which also gained 2.5%. Luxury goods company Kering, and auto parts supplier Valeo, each closed 1.6% higher, while telecommunications operator Orange closed 1.5% higher.

The FTSE gained 0.64%, the DAX climbed 0.61%, and the CAC-40 rose 0.56%.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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