9:44, 27.May 2016
The price of OPEC basket of fourteen crudes stood at $44.35 a barrel on Wednesday, compared with $44.34 the previous day, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.
The new OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes (ORB) is made up of the following: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Oriente (Ecuador), Rabi Light (Gabon), Minas (Indonesia), Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Qatar Marine (Qatar), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).
Meanwhile, CNBC reports that European stocks rallied on Thursday after a sell-off earlier this week, buoyed by positive sentiment in the U.S. and a tentative rise in oil prices.
The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 1.36 percent.
Europe's higher open on Thursday follows a rebound in the U.S. on Wednesday on the back of a rise in oil prices and dovish minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's June meeting.
Federal Reserve policymakers said it was prudent to wait for more data and the Brexit vote result before raising rates, and cited a slowdown in hiring as a reason to keep rates unchanged last month, according to meeting minutes released Wednesday afternoon. The non-farm payrolls report due Friday will be the next key data followed by markets.
Hopes that the U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union (EU) could prompt further easing by central banks around the world – or at least a delay in interest rate rises in the U.S. – are seen as a major driver for positive market sentiment.
Oil markets are also being watched after prices rose in early trading on Thursday. The increase was supported by a report of another fall in U.S. crude inventories as well as a weaker dollar, although a glut of refined products and economic growth concerns continue to weigh on markets, Reuters reported.
Asia markets were trading mixed on Thursday, however, despite a stronger finish in the U.S. that followed a rise in oil prices and the release of the dovish Fed minutes.
Danone acquires WhiteWave Foods
In business news, Danone said it would acquire WhiteWave Foods in a deal that values the U.S. organic foods producer at $12.5 billion, in what would be the French company's biggest acquisition in 10 years. Danone shares rallied on the back of the news.
A number of companies also reported trading updates and earnings. Britain's Marks & Spencer saw shares lower after it reported an 8.9 percent like-for-like fall in clothing and home sales in the 13 weeks to July 2, while food sales 0.9 percent. The retailer said it was "too early to quantify the implications of Brexit" and reiterated its full-year guidance.
U.K. retailer Sports Direct reported an 8.4 percent year-on-year decline in pretax profit for the year ending April 24. Despite this, shares of the sports retailer rallied over 9 percent.
Primark owner Associated British Foods was up over 6 percent after it said revenue for the 40 weeks ended June 18 was 3 percent ahead of the same period last year at constant currency. Sales at Primark in the year-to-date were 7 percent ahead of last year.
British housebuilder Bovis Homes said it had traded in line with expectations in the first half of 2016 and it is "too early" to assess the impact of the country's EU referendum. Shares of the company were trading flat.
Financials rebound after Brexit mess
In other news, the number of British property funds suspended after the country's vote to leave the EU rose to seven on Wednesday, leaving over 18 billion pounds ($23 billion) frozen in the biggest seizing up of investment funds since the 2008 financial crisis, Reuters reported.
Aberdeen Asset Management said withdrawals from its U.K. Property Fund would face a 17 percent dilution levy, and that it would not fulfil later orders, but Exane BNP Paribas raised its price target for the stock. Shares of the fund manager rallied as a result.
Several other names which have been beaten up in recent days also rebounded including Aviva and Prudential.
Italian banks rally
The Italian banks were once again in focus for investors due to the large bad loan portfolio held by these lenders. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi defended his country's banks saying that their bad loan problem is small in comparison to the issue of derivative exposure faced by other European lenders.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS) was trading higher. The lender has been asked by the European Central Bank to slash its bad debts by 40 percent over three years. BMPS is holding a board meeting on Thursday in which a capital increase of up to 3 billion euros could be agreed, according to Italian newspaper La Stampa. Italy's market watchdog Consob banned net short positions on BMPS from July 7 until October 5.
Intesa Sanpaolo shares were higher after Exane BNP Paribas raised its outlook on the stock from "neutral" to "outperform". The chairman of Intesa Sanpaolo said the bank will not put money into Atlante – the Italian bank rescue fund.
Banco Popolare, whose shares hit a fresh record low on Wednesday, fell in early trade after Exane BNP Paribas cut its price target for the stock.
The basic resources sector was higher with a positive outlook on some stocks from several brokers. Jefferies, UBS and Canaccord Genuity raised their price target for Anglo American, helping boost shares.
UBS also raised the price target for BHP Billiton and Glencore, sending shares in both miners higher.
Fresnillo, however, was trading lower after HSBC cut its outlook on the stock from "buy" to "hold".
On the data front, U.K. industrial and manufacturing production figures for June are due.
Source: Ghana/AccraFM.com/100.5fm with CNBC files