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By Johann M Cherian and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) -London’s blue-chip stock index bounced off two-week closing lows on Thursday, as energy stocks received a lift from rising crude prices and investor sentiment steadied ahead of an annual conference of world central bankers.

The FTSE 100 index gained 0.6% after three consecutive sessions of losses.

Oil majors Shell and BP rose over 1% each, as crude prices were supported by the prospect of tighter supplies amid disruptions to Russian exports and the partial shutdown of a U.S. refinery. [O/R]

Ireland’s CRH rose 2.7% to the top of FTSE 100 after the building materials firm reported strong first-half results.

The global sentiment improved on Thursday after a bout of selling this week on concerns about a European recession as well as hawkish signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers.

We are definitely entering a period of weaker economic activity, but the evidence from companies that have reported so far this year does not suggest that it’s really hitting them,” said Jamie Ross, fund manager of Henderson EuroTrust.

When I look ahead, I do expect the weakness in economic data to start to translate into weakness in earnings. Areas like industrials, autos and semiconductors, we’d expect to see some pressure.

Data showed British car production rose for a third consecutive month in July but remained 46.4% below pre-pandemic levels as the industry struggles with supply chain shortages, structural changes and weak exports.

Investors are bracing for hawkish signals from Fed Chair Jerome Powell when he speaks at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday.

The domestically exposed FTSE 250 index inched up after sinking to a more than one-month low in the previous session.

Hays Plc rose 3.3% after the recruitment agency reported a 128% jump in annual profit due to a rise in demand for new staff as employers rush to fill vacancies.

Harbour Energy rose 10%, pulling the midcap index higher with it after the UK North Sea’s biggest oil and gas producer increased a share buyback programme by 50%.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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