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European shares end mostly lower, Ericsson tanks

Euro zone equities finished largely lower on Thursday, as investors digested earnings news and economic data.

Greek and Spanish stocks were the exception, with U.K. stocks also performing solidly.

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IBEX 35
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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 ended provisionally 0.6 percent lower, after fresh data showed that business activity growth in the euro zone slowed in April.

Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 53.5 in April from 54.0 in March, indicating that growth in business activity had slowed. The reading was below analysts' expectations.

The reading for Germany in particular was disappointing, showing a fall to 54.2 in April, from an eight-month peak of 55.4 in March. Germany's benchmark DAX index sold off as a result, closing unofficially down by 1.3 percent.

Read MoreGrowth in euro zone business activity slips

The French CAC index finished provisionally 0.7 percent lower, while London's FTSE finished around 0.3 percent higher.

Also on the data front, Spanish unemployment figures showed a rise from the previous quarter.

In the U.K., retail sales fell an unexpected 0.5 percent between February and March, according to the Office for National Statistics, weighing on the FTSE 100.

Stock watch

Shares of telecoms firm Ericsson closed nearly 10 percent lower after it posted weaker-than-forecast first quarter operating profit and said it expected North American sales to remain poor.

Bilfinger was even worse hit, closing down nearly 18 percent after the civil and industrial construction firm gave a profit warning on Thursday.

At the other end of benchmarks, Michelin shares closed nearly 6.5 percent higher after the tire maker released first-quarter sales figures.

Dassault Systemes, meanwhile, announced a 30 percent rise in revenue in its first quarter; shares of the company closed over 5 percent higher.

Deutsche Bank shares closed around 0.1 percent lower following news that the bank would pay a $2.5 billion fine to U.S. and U.K. regulators for interest rate manipulation.

U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range on Thursday as investors eyed a heavy day of earnings and some economic data. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 traded near the flatline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held lower.

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