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Europe stocks close higher despite weak data

Autos and banking stocks helped European indexes to close slightly higher on Thursday, despite soft data from the euro zone and disappointing results from Royal Dutch Shell.

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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed up 0.4 percent at 1,292.75 points — a fresh five-year high — after Peugeot Citroen helped autos stocks higher. Peugeot shares were boosted by unconfirmed reports in French media of strong sales, and closed up around 3 percent.

Shares of Alcatel-Lucent, the French telecoms giant, surged to close over 19 percent higher after it posted a revenue rise of 7 percent on a constant currency basis and a net loss of 200 million euros ($274 million) in the third quarter that was lower than the year before.

(Read More: Alcatel-Lucent CEO: Turnaround just needs time)

The banking sector also rose, helped by forecast-beating earnings from BNP Paribas. The French lender's third quarter net profit beat forecasts, with profits up 2.4 percent on a year earlier. —Shares climbed to close up around 3.4 percent.

(Read More: BNP Paribas revenue hit by weak fixed income trading)

In other stocks news, shares of U.K. telecoms company BT closed up 2 percent despite it recording a fall in its quarterly earnings, hit by the costs of broadcasting Premier League football.


Less dovish Fed

However, gains were capped after Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's third largest-listed company by market capitalization, closed down around 3.5 percent after its third quarter results came in below forecasts.

Plus, French oil services company Technip fell over 10 percent after it cut its full-year sales targets.

In Europe, data showed that unemployment in the euro zone was stubbornly stuck at a record high of 12.2 percent in September, signaling that the region's economic recovery is yet to be felt in the job market. Inflation figures for the bloc sunk to a four year low of 0.7 percent, down from 1.1 percent in September.

Gains were also capped after a less dovish than expected tone from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. The Fed maintained its $85-billion-a-month bond-purchasing program.

It eliminated some language from its statement, including comments highlighting its concern about a tightening of financial conditions, a reason it cited for maintaining its easing program in September. It also removed comments about higher mortgage rates and did not sound as negative on the economy as some Fed watchers were expecting.

"Available data suggest that household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months," the Federal Open Market Committee's statement said.

More ECB Liquidity

In Europe,Ewald Nowotny of the European Central Bank told CNBC that the bank would provide more liquidity to avoid a "cliff" effect once long-term refinancing operations (LTROs) –- the bank's cheap loans to euro zone banks –- came to an end.

"Concerning the liquidity, the main challenge is of course that a large part of our liquidity provision is via the LTRO, the long-term liquidity provision," Nowotny told CNBC in an interview.

(Read More: More liquidity coming from ECB to avoid 'cliff': Nowotny)

Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld

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STOXX BANKS
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