European equities remained steady Thursday as the European Central Bank (ECB) hailed a return to 'normalisation' in financial market conditions.
ECB President Mario Draghi addressed the media today following the decision to leave the main refinancing rate unchanged at 0.75% and pointed towards signs that the Eurozone might recover later in the year.
"Fragmentation is being gradually repaired but all of this hasn't found its way through to the real economy yet," he said.
"We are now back in a normal situation from a financial viewpoint but we are not at all seeing an early and strong [economic] recovery [...] We observe a normalisation of certain conditions."
On another positive note for the Eurozone, Standard & Poor's said the next 12 months could mark the beginning of a sustainable period for the region in overcoming the market volatility and fragmentation that has affected the Eurozone over the past few years.
In a report titled 'The Eurozone Debt Crisis: 2013 Could Be A Watershed Year', S&P said the European economy could be facing a decisive year that can determine whether the region emerges from its sovereign debt problems.
The agency believes that 2013 could be the year in which bailed out countries like Ireland and Portugal resume substantial debt issuances in the primary markets.
Spain reports strong bond sale
Spain's treasury auctions this morning were successful as it issued bonds for €5.82bn, well above its target range of €4 to €5bn. The Treasury raised €1.95bn in five-year bonds at a maximum yield of 4.033% compared to 4.769% in the prior auction. The bid-to-cover rate was 2.59.
Unemployment continues to rise to new records in Greece as it enters its sixth straight year of recession. The jobless rate hit 26.8% in October with 1.34m Greeks out of work, according to data published today. Unemployment has tripled since it began to rise in September 2009 and is currently up 38% since October 2011.
Consumer electronics firm Philips was up 4.40% to €21.14 after BofA Merrill Lynch upgraded its rating to "buy".
Marks & Spencer fell 4.2%, after saying sales of clothing, footwear and homewares dropped 3.8% in the 13 weeks to December 29th at UK stores open more than a year.
Chrysler Group said its minority shareholder pushed the US automaker to take the first step towards becoming a public company again by demanding parent company Fiat SpA register shares with regulators.
Volkswagen gained 0.80% to €160.53 after announcing that it wants to take full control over Munich based truck manufacturer Man.
Banque PSA, the financial arm of loss-making French car maker Peugeot, will sign around €5bn (£4,3bn) of loans as part of an €18.5bn debt rescue plan in the next few days, according to bankers.
Brent crude rises
The euro rose 1.16% to the 1.3215 dollar
Front month Brent crude futures climbed 0.543 dollars to the 112.370 dollar per barrel mark on the ICE.