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European stocks close mixed as miners, banks weigh

European stock markets closed mixed on Thursday, with weaker commodity prices hitting mining stocks, and a ruling by the U.S. Federal Reserve sending banking stocks lower.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index finished the session provisionally up 0.2 percent at 1,321.50 points. The Spanish IBEX, Italian FTSE MIB and German Dax closed narrowly higher, while the U.K. FTSE and French Cac closed slightly lower.

European banks were hit by a ruling overnight from the U.S. Federal Reserve that blocked some banks' programs for higher dividends and share buybacks. The Federal Reserve rejected Citigroup's plans to buy back $6.4 billion of shares, arguing that the bank was not prepared to handle a potential crisis.

Other banks blocked in their plans were the U.S. units of HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander.

Shares in RBS finished European trade around 1.5 lower, and HSBC lost just over 0.5 percent.

The basic resources sector, meanwhile, saw heavy selling, with metal prices slumping once more. Randgold Resources and Polymetal were just some of the mining stocks that lost ground on Thursday.

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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Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a $14-18 billion bailout for Ukraine on Thursday morning, which will usher in a new era for the post-Soviet economy. The IMF's Mission Chief Nikolay Gueorguiev announced that the bailout will use a "stand-by arrangement."

(Read more: Russia growth seen down—and it's not just Crimea)

UK retail sales beat

Retail sales for the U.K. surprised on the upside on Thursday, with a month-on-month rise of 1.7 percent, against expectations of a 0.5 percent rise. The yearly figure was also way ahead of analysts' predictions, reading 3.7 percent.

"U.K. retail sales data smashed investor expectations this morning, largely as a result of better sales in both food and non-food stores," Alex Edwards, head of the corporate desk at UKForex, said in research note.

"This shows consumers on the high street are feeling more confident about the U.K.'s recovery."

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
ALU
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FP
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FTSE
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C
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DJ STOXX BR
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STOXX BANKS
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IBEX 35
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FTSE MIB
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DAX
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CAC 40
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