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Europe shares turn positive after Putin comments

European shares pared losses and closed higher on Thursday, with the easing of tensions in Ukraine helping investor sentiment.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed provisionally 0.3 percent higher at 1,329.3 points. The U.K. benchmark FTSE 100 closed unofficially 0.4 percent higher, as did the French CAC 40, while the German DAX ended 0.3 percent higher.

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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Putin speaks

Disappointing data from the euro zone initially sent markets lower, but calming words from Russian President Vladimir Putin helped turn shares around.

In a morning speech in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March, Putin said: "We will do everything in our power so that this conflict is ended as soon as possible, so that the blood can stop flowing in Ukraine.''

He added: "We need to consolidate and mobilize but not for war or any kind of confrontation ... for hard work in the name of Russia.''

Read MorePutin: Russia will do its utmost to 'stop bloodshed'

Earlier in the day, official data on Thursday showed the euro zone's economy failed to grow in the second quarter. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected 0.1 percent growth.

Worryingly, Germany's economy contracted for the first time in over a year, due to weak foreign trade, investment and construction. France's economy also stagnated.

Read MoreGerman economy in shock contraction, France flat

"The data clearly indicate that the euro area economy is still stuck with very low growth. The poor figure is chiefly driven by downside surprises in Italy, France and Germany which all failed to grow in the second quarter," analysts at Pantheon Macroeconomics said after the release.

Meanwhile, euro zone inflation for July was confirmed at 0.4 percent year-on-year.

In the U.S., stock indexes on Wall Street traded higher on Thursday.

"We seem to be reacting now more to Europe and Russia than anything happening here," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.

Earnings news

Energy giant RWE closed around 1.5 percent lower, after its first-half earnings report highlighting pressure from subsidized renewable energies.

Shares of Dutch company Aegon closed around 3.5 percent down, with analysts giving a mixed review of its results.

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