(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)
* Oil, real estate stocks among big decliners
* Tech rally continues as U.S. peers rally
* ECB sticks to policy as expected
(Updates to market close)
By Sruthi Shankar and Amal S
Jan 21 (Reuters) - European stocks lost steam heading into the close on Thursday, weighed down by oil and real estate shares, while the European Central Bank stuck to its monetary policy but warned a surge in COVID-19 infections posed a risk to the euro zone's recovery.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index .STOXX ended flat after rising as much as 0.8% earlier in the session.
The ECB offered few surprises after it kept its policy unchanged, while its president Christine Lagarde warned that a new rise in cases and the ensuing restrictions to activity would dampen activity in the near term and said the ECB was prepared to provide even more support for the economy if needed. touched upon the mixed positive and negative developments but concluded that there were no reasons to change the broader assessment from the December projections," Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING, wrote in a note.
Brzeski, however, noted the central bank's projection in December of 0.6% GDP growth quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter "is a tad optimistic."
European shares rallied to near 11-month highs earlier on Thursday after as investors bet on major stimulus from new U.S. President Joe Biden, who signed half a dozen executive orders including a U.S. return to the international Paris Agreement to fight climate change. in wind turbine maker Vestas VWS.CO , renewable energy group Siemens (NS: SIEM ) Gamesa SGREN.MC and offshore wind group Orsted ORSTED.CO rose between 1.4% and 3.9%.
Tech stocks .SXTP jumped 1.6% as their U.S. peers rallied, while British software maker Sage Group SGE.L jumped 4.9% after posting higher quarterly recurring revenue. Bankinter BKT.MC gained 4.3% as it forecast higher lending income and loan growth across its markets. online pharmacy chain Zur Rose Group AG ROSEG.S climbed 8.9% after it posted full-year revenue above analysts' expectations. IG IGG.L tumbled almost 9% after it announced plans to buy U.S. trading platform tastytrade for $1 billion.
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