Europe Markets

Europe shares close higher after US data and earnings


European shares closed higher on Thursday, as investors brushed aside concerns regarding Ukraine and focused instead on Wall Street earnings and the latest U.S. jobs data.

European market closes higher

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed higher by 0.4 percent at 1,328.34 points ahead of the Easter holiday when many indexes are shut for a four-day weekend.

Stocks had been lower in morning trade but reversed after the U.S. government reported that 304,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, less than the 315,000 expected by analysts.

For the week, the FTSE 100 posted a 0.97 percent increase, while the DAX, CAC and FTSE MIB were all higher by over 1 percent.

On Thursday, the autos sector saw a rise of 2.1 percent after the recovery in the European Union (EU)'s car industry carried on through March, with rapidly increasing sales in Spain and the U.K.

Read More Europe car sales rise as recovery 'becomes more widespread'

U.S. stocks wavered between gains and losses on Thursday, with investors declining to take a decisive stance after a three-day rally, amid a slew of quarterly earnings from companies including General Electric and Morgan Stanley.

Goldman Sachs gained after reporting an 11 percent drop in first-quarter profit, as the brokerage's results surpassed estimates. UnitedHealth also reported a decline in first-quarter earnings, with its shares falling. GE gained after posting a profit that edged beyond estimates. Morgan Stanley rose after the investment bank reported a gain in first-quarter income.

Investors in Europe kept a close eye on events in Ukraine, which have dominated markets once again this week. Representatives of the EU, the U.S., Ukraine and Russia met in Geneva on Thursday in the hope of cooling the escalating crisis, which has claimed yet more lives overnight.

Read MorePutin: We could cut off the gas in a month

Currency headwinds weigh

In stocks news, shares of SAP fell 1.2 percent after the German software company reported its first-quarter earnings, warning that currency headwinds were set to impacting profits. AkzoNobel sank 5.2 percent, also reporting that currency headwinds had hit its revenues in the its first-quarter trading period.

Diageo shares also fell, closing down around 3.7 percent, after the spirit maker highlighted weak sales in Asia effecting its third-quarter revenues.

French company Publicis saw its shares rise 1.3 percent after it first-quarter earnings came in line with expectations. Luxury retailer Mulberry fell 1.1 percent after a profit warning on Thursda,y with the firm saying that it would reverse its recent strategy of increasing prices.

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