EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Post Cautious Gains As Jackson Hole Day Arrives

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.K.'s GDP growth confirmed at 0.3%

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European stock markets traded in narrow ranges on Thursday, with investors taking a cautious approach as the Jackson Hole summit that's been hanging over markets this week was finally about to kick off.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.2% at 374.70, party recouping a 0.5% loss from Wednesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-tilt-lower-even-as-factory-activity-stays-strong-2017-08-23).

Stock markets in Europe and the U.S. have flip-flopped between gains and losses this week, with volatility in part driven by U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to shutdown the government (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-shutdown-threat-rattles-stock-market-2017-08-23) and uncertainty ahead of the annual gathering of global central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The central-bank summit begins on Thursday and runs through Saturday. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will speak on Friday, with markets watching for hints on the future path for monetary policy.

"While this gathering is unlikely to result in any major policy decisions, it is still important for investors because of the role of central banks continue to have in market valuations," said Rebecca O'Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor, in a note.

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"The big question for investors is whether conditions are changing, where markets will not be able to rely on central bank policies to support valuations forever," she added.

Read:Here's what investors will be watching when Draghi, Yellen speak at Jackson Hole (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-what-investors-will-be-watching-when-draghi-yellen-speak-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-22)

The euro has strengthen recently on expectations Draghi will soon announce the beginning of the end of the ECB's aggressive bond-buying program. ECB sources have said, however, the central bank boss won't discuss future policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-slides-after-ecb-hints-at-no-hawkish-shift-at-jackson-hole-2017-08-16) at the Jackson Hole meeting.

The shared currency on Thursday bought $1.1798, down from $1.1808 late Wednesday in New York.

Stock movers: Shares of Dixons Carphone PLC (DC.LN) plunged 26% after the mobile phone and electrical retailer warned fiscal 2018 profit would be much lower than last year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dixons-carphone-warns-on-2018-profit-2017-08-24), blaming challenging conditions in the U.K. mobile phone market.

CRH PLC (CRG.DB) (CRG.DB) climbed 3% after the building-materials company said it's selling its Americas Distribution business to Beacon Roofing Supply Inc. (BECN) for $2.63 billion in cash (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/crh-to-sell-us-distribution-unit-in-26b-deal-2017-08-24). Additionally, the Dublin-based company said it will buy Fels, a German lime and aggregates business, for EUR600 million.

Provident Financial PLC (PFG.LN) jumped 13%, adding to a 12% gain from Wednesday. The U.K.-based lender tumbled 66% on Tuesday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/provident-warns-on-profit-again-ceo-to-leave-2017-08-22) after warning it will lose between 80 million pounds ($102 million) and GBP120 million in the third quarter.

SimCorp AS (SIM.KO) tanked 10% after the software company's earnings missed expectations.

Economic news: Economic growth in the U.K. was confirmed at 0.3% in the second quarter, according to the second estimate of the country's gross domestic product from the Office for National Statistics. The reading was as expected, but the pound still slipped to $1.2788 after the data compared with $1.2807 before the report.

In France, confidence in the manufacturing sector jumped to an almost-decade high at 111 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-manufacturing-confidence-up-more-than-seen-2017-08-24) in August, up from 108 in July.

Indexes: France's CAC 40 index added 0.2% to 5,126.61, while Germany's DAX 30 index climbed 0.2% to 12,194.87.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.4% to 7,414.19 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-inches-higher-as-uk-growth-data-come-into-focus-2017-08-24).

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 24, 2017 05:06 ET (09:06 GMT)