European stocks and oil prices fell on Thursday but still held on to most of this week's gains, as concern eased about the global outlook for economic growth. Upbeat data from major economies this week and signs of a rebound in commodity prices have helped restore some calm to global markets after a turbulent start to the year. Growth in Germany's private sector slid to a five-month low in February but remained solid, underpinned by growing services, a survey showed on Thursday.
European stock markets fell at the open but remained close to two-month highs, reflecting a more upbeat mood among investors. Oil prices reversed earlier gains as swelling U.S. crude inventories outweighed a growing belief that the market's 20-month-long rout is ending.
Brent crude prices slipped 0.9 percent to $36.63 but are still some 35 percent above last month's lows. U.S. crude futures lost 0.4 percent to $34.51. However, they have risen more than a third since Feb. 11, when prices dropped to levels not seen since 2003 at just over $26 a barrel. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.46 percent, with blue-chip stocks in London, Paris and Frankfurt all losing ground.
That followed a strong session in Asia, where MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added another 1.1 percent to reach a two-month peak. Focus turned to the U.S. non-manufacturing ISM report, due later on Thursday, with investors eyeing the employment component for clues about Friday's non-farm payrolls report.
About the author
Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University