European stock markets closed higher on Thursday as investors watched economic data and as travel stocks rose after Ryanair (RYA.L) raised its long-term traffic forecast.
The German DAX closed up 0.2%, Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4% and the French CAC 40 climbed 0.6%. The Swiss Market Index was up 0.4% and the FTSE 100 Index in the UK inched up 0.2%.
The euro area's trade surplus reached 20.7 billion euros ($24.4 billion) in July, up from 18.1 billion euros in June, but lower than the 26.8 billion euros logged a year earlier, Eurostat said.
The euro area's job vacancy rate stood at 2.3% in the second quarter, up from 2.1% in the previous quarter and 1.6% a year ago, Eurostat said. Over the entire European Union, the job vacancy rate was 2.2%, higher than 2% in the prior quarter and 1.6% in the prior-year quarter.
New vehicle registrations plunged 22% year over year in the UK to 68,033 units, according to data released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, or ACEA. In the first eight months of 2021, the UK registered 1,101,302 vehicles, 20.3% higher than the year-ago figure.
On the corporate front, Ryanair (RYA.L) was up 8% after it raised its five-year traffic growth forecast to 50% from 33% as it anticipates the delivery of 210 B737 Gamechanger aircraft over the next five years.
Shares in Continental (CON.F) were down 16% after it spun off Vitesco Technologies (VTSC.F). Vitesco gave up intraday gains, ending 1% lower on its first day of trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
Ashtead Group (AHT.L) was up over 5% after it said it expects to beat its original 2021 revenue growth target after reporting a 71% increase in first-quarter profit. Equipment rental company Ashtead now expects revenue to increase between 13% to 16%, compared to its original guidance of 6% to 9%.