LONDON — European stocks struggled for direction on Thursday with regional investors keeping a close eye on developments in Ukraine, and key meetings of NATO, EU and G-7 leaders in Brussels.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.1% mid-afternoon, having given back earlier gains. Retail stocks dropped 1.4% while telecoms added 0.7%.

Global markets are closely following high-profile meetings in Brussels on Thursday with a NATO summit, a meeting of EU leaders, and a Group of Seven summit taking place.

The war in Ukraine is top of the agenda as Russia’s invasion continues. U.S. President Joe Biden is attending the meetings and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to join the NATO summit via videolink.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the Western military alliance’s leaders are expected to commit “major increases” in troops along its eastern flank when they meet to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine. More sanctions on Russia could also be announced, Biden has indicated.

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At the top of the Stoxx 600, British investment company Bridgepoint jumped 13% after reporting a sharp rise in 2021 profit and revenue, and declaring a dividend.

At the bottom of the index, German manufacturer Kion Group fell 7.6%.

On the data front, euro zone and U.K. business growth came in stronger than expected in March, according to new purchasing managers’ index readings published Thursday.

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