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Europe shares close lower as 6-day rally comes to an end

European stocks closed lower on Thursday, failing to build on a six-session rally, with investor sentiment curbed by a slew of weak earnings and a political showdown in Italy.

Banking stocks weigh

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed lower by 0.1 percent at 1,325.40 points, with banking stocks posting declines after both Lloyds and BNP Paribas released results.

French lender BNP Paribas reported net profit for 2013 that missed market expectations with two different charges for the bank hitting its figures for the year. Shares slipped down by around 2.6 percent at close.

(Read More: BNP Paribas profit misses, hit by legal provision)

Meanwhile, Lloyds Banking Group reported that it paid £395 million ($655 million) in bonuses last year, up 8 percent on the year before. Its underlying profit more than doubled to £6.2 billion.

However, analysts focused on its "disappointing" guidance for the year ahead and shares sank by 2 .6 percent on Thursday.

(Read More: Lloyds returns to profit, bonus pool $655 million)

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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Italy in focus

Italy's FTSE MIB Index closed down provisionally 0.1 percent, scaling back from session lows after a speech from center-left leader Matteo Renzi. Prime Minister Enrico Letta agreed to tender his resignation after Renzi made a public statement of his intent to usurp Letta.

(Read More: Italy's Letta to submit resignation Friday)

Commerzbank shares rise

In other stocks news, shares of Nestle closed down 1.5 percent after it gave a cautious outlook for the year and a set of mixed results for 2013.

(Read More: Nestle sees tough 2014 with growth below long-term goals)

Shares of Commerzbank provisionally closed up 1.5 percent after it posted a small profit rise for the fourth quarter of 2013 as its restructuring gained traction.

(Read More: Commerzbank posts small profit, clean-up gains pace)

Miner Rio Tinto saw its shares fall 0.4 percent at close, despite reporting a 45 percent jump in second-half profit, which beat market forecasts.

(Read More: Rio Tinto second-half profit surges 45% as cost cuts take hold)

Shares of ABB, the Swiss industrial conglomerate, fell 2.4 percent after it trimmed its revenue targets for 2014, blaming a sluggish global economic recovery as it posted a 13 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

(Read More: ABB trims targets on slow global recovery)

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