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European markets rally to close higher after Fed surprise

European shares pared gains but closed higher on Thursday, with trade in the U.S. choppy, a day after the Federal Reserve surprised markets by opting to maintain its $85 billion-per-month asset purchases.

(Read more: Gartman: US jobs will have to hit 250K before Fed tapers)

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed provisionally 0.5 percent higher at 1,264.6, and London's FTSE closed 0.9 percent higher. The best performers were among the precious metals miners, including Polymetal International, Randgold, Fresnillo, Antofagasta and Anglo American.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
---
DAX
---
CAC 40
---
IBEX 35
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Sterling fell against the euro on reports that U.K. monthly retail sales figures fell 0.9 percent in August from the previous month, after a strong reading in July. A 0.4 percent rise had been expected in August.

Vodafone, down around 0.9 percent, was among the few stocks on the FTSE to close lower, along with security services group G4S. Plus, Tesco closed lower, suffering from the weak retail data.

However, shares of online clothes retailer Asos jumped around 12.7 percent after the group said sales increased nearly 50 percent in the three months to August.

(Read more: Asos gets sales boost on tailor-made prices)

Shares of airline Deutsche Lufthansa traded up 1.4 percent, before paring back, after the company announced that in addition to its biggest-ever order of 59 Airbus and Boeing wide-body jets, it has options to purchase another 60 planes.

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Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
---
FTSE EUR 300
---
VOD
---
AAL
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ABF
---
ASC
---
TSCO
---
SGE
---
LHA
---
GFS
---
POLY
---
RRS
---
FRES
---
ANTO
---
GBP/USD
---
GBP/EUR
---

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