European equities rise slightly; oil stocks fall as US plans to release reserves

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March 31 (Reuters)European stocks edged higher on Thursday, led by gains in the automotive and defensive sectors, while oil stocks fell as a U.S. plan to tap into its strategic oil reserves weakened crude prices.

The pan-European stock index .STOXX rose 0.2%, despite a 1.5% drop in oil inventories SXEP.

London’s FTSE 100 index, focused on energy and materials .FTSE rose 0.1%, after data showed the UK economy grew faster than previously thought in the fourth quarter.

The STOXX 600 is down around 5.5% for the January-March period and is expected to end a seven-fight winning streak as investors remain cautious about the Ukraine crisis and its impact on inflation and growth. economic growth.

For the month, however, the index was on track to post its first gain of 2022.

Swedish H&M HMB.ST fell 7.9% after reporting weaker-than-expected profit for the December-February period, its first fiscal quarter.

(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Felix J. Dixon