The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2022.
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 15, 2022. Reuters / STAFF

Europe's STOXX 600 share index rose on Thursday, boosted by a run of upbeat corporate results although gains were limited as investors digested an oversized ECB interest-rate hike amid growing worries about a recession.

In its first rate hike in 11 years, the European Central Bank lifted interest rates to zero percent, breaking its own guidance for a 25 basis point increase to tame inflation running at a record high of 8.6%.

However, the central bank did not provide guidance for its expected rate hike in September, saying only that further increases will be as appropriate and decisions will be made meeting by meeting.

"Today's decision shows that the ECB is more concerned about (their) credibility than about being predictable. This matters more than forward guidance," said Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING.

"We expect the ECB to deliver another rate increase by a total of 50 bps before winter starts. Thereafter, we currently don't expect further rate hikes. Instead of a long rate hike journey, the ECB's policy normalisation currently rather looks like a short trip."

The broader-pan European STOXX 600 index closed 0.4% higher after seesawing earlier in the session in the aftermath of the ECB's decision and President Christine Lagarde's presser.

In a bid to cushion the impact of the rise in borrowing costs on the 19-country currency bloc's more indebted nations, the ECB also unveiled a new tool, the Transmission Protection Instrument, to limit financial fragmentation.

Italian banks pared losses to end 2.9% lower. They had fallen up to 7.2% earlier in the day after Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned, pushing the country into fresh political turmoil.

An early election in September or October will be the most likely outcome. Italy's benchmark FTSE MIB index which had dropped almost 3% earlier in the day, closed 0.7% down.

Some relief on Thursday came from easing worries over an energy supply crunch, as Russian gas flows resumed through Nord Stream 1, the biggest pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Worries about an energy supply crunch in Europe, a weaker euro and prospects that aggressive monetary policy tightening to curb soaring inflation could spark a global recession have rattled markets, with the STOXX 600 down 13% this year.

Viaplay Group jumped 11.1% after the Swedish media group posted upbeat quarterly earnings and subscriber numbers.

ASM International surged 14% to top the STOXX 600 after the Dutch semiconductor supplier flagged new orders at a record high as it published results in line with its forecast, despite lingering supply-chain issues.

Publicis gained 5.1% after the world's third-biggest advertising group raised its full-year outlook.