European stock markets edged higher yesterday as the European Central Bank pledged to keep its aggressive stimulus policy at least until the end of the year, but signalled there was less of a need to prop up growth and inflation in the euro zone.
Economic sentiment is at a six-year high, trade is rebounding, services and manufacturing output is rising, and unemployment is at its lowest since 2009. ECB President Mario Draghi accordingly announced small upgrades to euro zone growth forecasts, now seen at 1.8pc this year and 1.7pc next year.
US stocks opened little changed on Thursday as investors held off from making big bets ahead of today's jobs data, which could boost the chances of an interest rate hike next week.
US crude prices pared losses after hitting a four-month low of $48.79 before the open, following a record rise in inventories.
In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index ended the session 0.39pc higher at 6,661.97.
It was boosted by shares in companies including Origin Enterprises. The agricultural services firm said that group revenue in the first six months of its financial year hit €564.4m and that it made an operating profit of €2m. Its shares climbed 3pc to close at €6.80.
Shares in Ryanair rose 2.7pc to €14.45 as oil prices declined. Paddy Power Betfair regained ground lost earlier in the week after posting full-year results, with its shares advancing 2.4pc to €99.22.
Shares in Cairn Homes rose 2pc to €1.36 as it released full-year results ahead of expectations. Its revenue hit €40.9m, and it made operating profits of €3.6m.
The UK's FTSE-100 slipped 0.27pc. Germany's DAX was flat, while France's CAC-40 rose 0.4pc.