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Europe: Stocks little changed as Draghi calls inflation subdued

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[PARIS] European stocks closed little changed, recovering most of their earlier losses, after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said underlying inflation pressures remain subdued.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost less than 0.1 per cent at the close, after earlier falling as much as 0.4 per cent. The benchmark has largely moved sideways since the start of the year. Retailers and banks helped temper declines in defensive sectors including drugmakers and real estate shares on Thursday.

Mr Draghi said he doesn't see a convincing upward trend in underlying inflation, in remarks to the media after the ECB left its quantitative-easing program and benchmark rates unchanged.

Bulls in the American Association of Individual Investors weekly survey fell to 37 per cent, the lowest level since the Nov 3 week before the US election.

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For Stephane Barbier de la Serre, a strategist at Makor Capital Markets in Geneva, the survey is a relatively bullish signal in the short term, as it shows that sentiment is not at "euphoria" levels, he wrote in emailed comments.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc equity strategists expect European earnings to beat forecasts in the current season as nearly all the factors tracked by the strategists have been strongly positive since the last quarter, according to a note.

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