European stocks were mixed in cautious trade on Thursday as trade war worries eased and focus shifted to the corporate earnings season.
The prospect of no further escalation in the economically damaging trade war helped improve investor sentiment somewhat as the U.S. and China finally signed the long-awaited "Phase One" trade deal, with tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports still in place.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was up 0.15 percent at 420.19 after ending on a flat note the previous day.
The German DAX was marginally higher and France's CAC 40 index edged up 0.2 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.4 percent amid downbeat earnings.
Automakers were broadly lower. Europe's passenger car demand increased for the fourth straight month to log the highest December total on record, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association revealed today.
Passenger car sales surged 21.7 percent year-on-year, but this was partially due to low base effect, as registrations decreased 8.4 percent in December 2018.
The agency said specific market changes also contributed to the exceptional growth in December.
French speed-train maker Alstom was trading flat after suffering losses earlier in the session. The company reported that its sales for the third quarter 2019/20 increased to 2.1 billion euros from 2.0 billion euros in the prior year. It booked 3.6 billion euros of orders, compared to 3.4 billion euros last year.
Meal-kit delivery company HelloFresh soared 8.5 percent after its preliminary 2019 results topped forecasts.
Evotec SE, a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company, rallied 2.3 percent. The company announced that its Seattle-based subsidiary Just - Evotec Biologics, Inc. has established a collaborative relationship with OncoResponse, Inc., an immuno-oncology focused biotech company.
Nivea maker Beiersdorf fell over 1 percent after reporting its fiscal 2019 results.
British recruiter Hays tumbled 3.8 percent after warning that first-half profits will fall around 19 percent.
Pearson plunged more than 10 percent. The publication and education company expects profits to fall next year amid another drop in demand for U.S. college textbooks.
Restaurant company Whitbread lost 4.3 percent after saying it would continue to be hit by economic uncertainty and higher costs in the U.K.
Associated British Foods rallied 2.7 percent after its Group revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks ended 4 January 2020 rose 4 percent from last year.
Shares of Rank Group surged 4.8 percent. The Casinos and gaming company said it now expects fiscal 2020 underlying operating profit pre IFRS16 to be above current market expectations.
In economic releases, Germany's consumer price index rose 1.5 percent year-on-year in December, following a 1.1 percent increase in November and October, final data from the Federal Statistical Office showed. This was in line with initial estimate.
The latest inflation was the highest since July, when it was 1.7 percent.