European stocks gained on Thursday, with investors bidding auto makers and pharmaceuticals higher in the face of data showing a stagnating economy.

The Stoxx Europe 600

SXXP, +0.69%

 rose 0.67% to 397.68. Of the 600 constituents, 39 reported results, and the average reaction to the earnings was better than the index, says George Pearkes, macro strategist at Bespoke Investment Group.

Speculation that the European Union will grant the U.K. an extension to Brexit also helped buoy sentiment.

The German DAX

DAX, +0.68%

 increased 0.63% to 12879.37, the French CAC 40

PX1, +0.57%

gained 0.56% to 5685.22 and the U.K. FTSE 100

UKX, +1.03%

 surged 1.02% to 7334.69.

The European Central Bank isn’t expected to take any fresh action at Mario Draghi’s last meeting. “The economic data continues to show underlying weakness in the eurozone, and we expect the ECB to reiterate that risks are still to the downside,” said Andrew Harman, senior portfolio manager at First State Investments, who expects further weakness in the euro.

That data includes the flash eurozone composite purchasing managers index barely staying over the 50 mark in October. The outlook in Germany in particular was worrisome, with the services PMI falling to a 37-month low. Read:German economy continues to struggle with manufacturing troubles spreading to services

AstraZeneca

AZN, +3.48%

AZN, +1.75%

 provided the largest upward pull to the Stoxx 600, with the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical rising 3.3% as cancer drug sales drove better-than-forecast third-quarter sales and profit.

Daimler

DAI, +4.48%

 rose 4.3% as the German auto maker reported a better-than-forecast operating profit.

Nokia

NOKIA, -20.46%

NOK, -1.35%

 plunged 20% as the Finnish telecom equipment maker lowered its guidance for this year and next, citing margin pressure, more 5G investments and additional digitalization investments. The company also cited high costs linked to first-generation 5G products, profitability challenges in China and pricing pressure in early 5G deals.

Rival Ericsson

ERIC.B, -1.15%

 slipped 1.5%.

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2019-10-24