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Europe: Shares edge higher led by BT and Repsol

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[LONDON] European stock markets edged higher on Thursday, buoyed by encouraging earnings updates including from telecoms group BT and oil company Repsol.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.3 per cent higher after falling 1.2 per cent in the previous session to its lowest level in almost a month.

The FTSEurofirst has lost around 10 per cent so far in 2016, hit - like other global stock markets - by worries about a slowdown in China, the world's second-biggest economy, and uncertainty over future US interest rate rises.

"Lower prices are starting to attract bargain hunters," said Markus Huber, a trader at City of London Markets Limited. "However, overall sentiment remains negative as uncertainty concerning global growth, a potential US rate hike in the third quarter and disappointing corporate earnings continue to take a toll on markets," he added.

BT was one of the best-performing stocks in the region, rising 2.6 per cent after the phone group reported a better-than-expected 6 per cent rise in full-year earnings.

Firmer oil prices also lifted the shares of major producers , with Tullow Oil up 6.1 per cent.

Spanish oil major Repsol climbed 4.7 per cent after posting a decline in first-quarter profits which was not as bad as some had expected. "A better than expected performance from the downstsream driven by petrochemicals, alongside the upstream business turning positive for the first time in a while, both contributed to the strong performance," analysts at RBC said in a note.

On the downside, Centrica fell 9.8 per cent, making it the top loser on the FTSEurofirst 300, after the British energy supplier announced a surprise share sale to pay off debt and protect its credit rating.

REUTERS