Europe Markets: European stocks on course to break losing streak as betting shares catch a bid

Stocks across Europe rose Thursday, aiming to break a two-session losing streak, with investors bidding up shares in stocks of betting companies as deal news brewed in that industry.

How markets are moving: The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.35% rose 0.3% to 387.65, as telecom, utility and financial shares led advancers. On Wednesday, the benchmark fell 0.1%.

Germany’s DAX 30 index DAX, +0.61% rose 0.6% to 13,076.31, and France’s CAC 40 PX1, +0.33% rose 0.3% to 5,388.05. Spain’s IBEX 35 IBEX, +0.44%  rose 0.2% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, +0.09% picked up 0.2% to 7,364.99, aided by continued weakness in the British pound GBPUSD, +0.0747%

The euro EURUSD, -0.1441%  traded at $1.1790, little changed from $1.1798 late Wednesday in New York.

What’s moving markets: “Shares in the U.K. and Europe opened higher on Thursday in a sign confidence is returning following a calmer day on Wall Street,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, in a note.

Investors in European assets also received data Thursday showing the eurozone economy remains firmly in recovery mode, with Eurostat saying its final print on third-quarter GDP came in at 0.6%, meeting expectations.

Still in focus are Brexit negotiations and in particular the chances for a deal on the Irish border issue, the last of three Brexit issues that have to be resolved before Friday, a deadline set by lead EU negotiator Michel Barnier. EU leaders are meeting Dec. 14-15 in Brussels, where they will assess whether there’s been “sufficient progress” in the U.K. withdrawal talks to move onto the next stage of trade and transition arrangements.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is working on a new proposal for the Irish border that she will present on Thursday, Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, according to media reports. A dispute with May’s Northern Ireland political allies over the issue of whether to have a “hard” or “soft” border scuttled a potential deal on Monday.

Stock movers: British bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral Group PLC LCL, +23.80%  rallied 25% after news the company is in £3.9 billion takeover talks with GVC Holdings PLC GVC, +4.57%  . GVC shares were up 4.1%.

William Hill PLC WMH, +2.95%  shares climbed 2.9% as that British bookmaker agreed to support Scientific Games Corp.’s SGMS, -0.56%  proposed acquisition of NYX Gaming Group Ltd. NYX, -0.42%  . As part of the agreement, William Hill plans to sell the 6.8 million NYX ordinary shares it owns to Scientific Games.

Broadcaster Sky PLC SKY, +1.52%  rose 2.2%. CNBC reported this week that Sky stakeholder 21st Century Fox Inc. FOXA, +0.67%  is closing in on a deal to sell some assets to Walt Disney Co. DIS, -1.64%  .

Steinhoff International Holdings NV SNH, -31.70%  sank 31%, extending Wednesday’s plunge of 63% after the retail holding company said Chief Executive Markus Jooste resigned with immediate effect amid an accounting probe.

Intrum Justitia AB INTRUM, +10.10%  jumped 9.4% after the Swedish debt collection company issued a strategy update.

Carrefour SA CA, -3.46%  fell 3.4% following a ratings downgrade to underperform from market-perform at Bernstein.

“Re-rating is based on wishful thinking,” including that politicians protecting French farmers will protect Carrefour from price competition, and that Ocado Group PLC’s OCDO, +1.06%  partnership deal with French supermarket company Groupe Casino SA CO, -1.97%  makes a Carrefour/Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +0.94%  deal more likely. “None of it adds up,” wrote Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne in a research note.

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