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Europe midday: Stocks trim gains after weak EZ PMI; JD Sports tanks

(Sharecast News) - European shares trimmed gains at the open on Thursday as investors shrugged off boiling tensions in the Middle East, but downbeat eurozone survey data weighed on sentiment. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.15% to 475.13 in early deals with all major regional bourses higher. In the US releases are due on initial jobless claims and private payrolls.

Shares fell on Wednesday after a bombing in Iran killed more than 100 people and assassination of the deputy leader of Islamic group Hamas in Lebanon raised fears that Israel's war in Gaza would become a regional conflict.

In economic news, business activity in the eurozone continued to contract at the end of last year, with survey data published on Thursday indicating the single currency bloc went into recession.

The eurozone composite purchasing managers index (PMI) - a good measure of economic health - was revised upwards to 47.6 from a flash estimate of 47 to match the final reading for November.

Meanwhile the services PMI edged ahead to 48.8 from November's 48.7, a five-month high but still below the 50 mark separating contraction from expansion.

In China, a private survey showed services activity continued to grow in December, with foreign demand for the country's services also rising.

The Caixin China General Services Business Activity Index rose to 52.9 in December compared with 51.5 in November, climbing for a 12th straight month. The survey also noted that the rate of growth was the fastest since July.

Oil prices traded higher today with both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate gaining more than 1% as concerns about attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi militants and a shutdown of an oilfield in Libya added to supply worries.

In equity news, shares in German biotechnology company Evotec slumped after chief executive Werner Lanthaler unexpectedly quit.

JD Sports Fashion also nosedived by almost a quarter after a profit warning, while shares in fellow UK clothing and homewares retailer Next jumped after the company lifted annual guidance driven by better-than-expected Christmas sales.

Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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