UPDATE 2-European stocks scrape out gains as surging oil prices offset virus woes

Reuters

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    * Trading volatile through session
    * Energy shares outperform on hopes of truce in oil price
war
    * Travel & leisure, technology lead declines
    * 2020 GDP fall likely to rival the Great Recession-
Economist

 (Updates to close)
    By Ambar Warrick and Sagarika Jaisinghani
    April 2 (Reuters) - A late-session rally in the energy
sector helped European stocks end slightly higher on Thursday,
with sentiment remaining fragile after a sharp rise in U.S.
unemployment claims showed further evidence of the coronavirus'
economic impact.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2BP2NC
    The pan-European STOXX 600  .STOXX  closed a volatile
session 0.4% higher, recovering from a sink into negative
territory.
    The energy sector  .SXEP  was the biggest boost to the
benchmark, tracking a surge in crude prices on reports that U.S.
President Donald Trump expects Russian President Putin and the
Saudi Crown Prince to announce an oil production cut.  O/R 
    A price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, coupled with
expectations of lower demand, had sent oil prices plummeting
last month, which in turn pushed European energy stocks to
24-year lows.
    The sector jumped more than 5% on the day, with heavyweights
Royal Dutch Shell  RDSa.L , Total SA  TOTF.PA  and BP  BP.L 
adding between 3% and 9%.
    Swedish oil and gas explorer Lundin Energy AB  LUPE.ST 
topped the STOXX 600, jumping around 15%.
    Still, the U.S. unemployment figures pointed to deep
economic ructions from the coronavirus outbreak, fanning
concerns over a global recession after data on Wednesday showed
factory activity crashing in the Euro zone.
    "With most euro zone countries in partial or full lockdown,
GDP contraction this year is likely to rival the Great
Recession," Peter Vanden Houte of ING wrote in a note.
    "While the sentiment indicators for March were bad, they
probably can be thrown in the bin immediately. After four months
of increases, economic sentiment nosedived in March," he added. 
    European travel and leisure stocks  .SXTP  were the worst
performers for the day, with cruise operator Carnival PLC
 CCL.L  plunging more than 20% as it readied a bumper capital
raise to help tide it through severe curbs on its business.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nASA00JQX
    Carnival bottomed out the STOXX 600 for a second straight
session. 
    Hays  HAYS.L , one of the world's biggest recruiters, 
slumped 13% after announcing an emergency 200 million pound
($248.36 million) issue of shares on Thursday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2BQ1MC
    Technology shares  .SX8P  also dropped, with French software
firm Dassault Systemes  DAST.PA  shedding more than 5% after it
warned of lower first-quarter revenue.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2BQ1ZI
    In Europe, countries including Germany, Spain and Italy have
extended lockdowns to try to halt the spread of COVID-19, and
analysts expect another earnings recession this year with
several firms withdrawing forecasts ahead of the reporting
season.

 (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by
Shounak Dasgupta)
 ((Sagarika.Jaisinghani@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646
223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2256;))

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