Europe Markets

Europe ends mostly lower as Greek standoff weighs

European stocks end mostly lower as Greek standoff returns

European equities closed mostly lower on Thursday, as investors awaited a high-profile referendum in Greece over the weekend.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed around 0.3 percent lower, after wobbling between losses and gains for much of the session.

The French CAC index and the German DAX index both finished in negative territory, provisionally ending 1.0 percent and 0.8 percent lower respectively.

London's FTSE 100 held onto gains, to finish around 0.4 percent higher, boosted by a strong performance from stock of energy supergiant BP.

The Greek stock market remained closed.

Talks between Greece and its lenders look to be on hold until the referendum this Sunday, when Greeks will vote on whether to accept creditors' bailout proposals, which are conditional on Greece instigating further austerity measures.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged Greeks to reject the proposed bailout deal in a televised speech on Wednesday evening.

The head of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has said there will be no further discussions regarding offering credit to Greece until after the referendum.

Read MoreBlame game: Greece in deadlock ahead of vote

Outside of Greece, the latest official U.S. nonfarm payrolls employment report showed American companies kicked off the summer with modest growth in hiring, sending nonfarm payrolls up 223,000 in June, according to Labor Department numbers released Thursday.

In addition to the payroll growth, the unemployment rate ticked lower to 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent, due largely to a sharp decline in labor force participation.

The report comes with Wall Street trying to discern when the Federal Reserve will institute its first interest rate hike in nine years.

U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range on Thursday, as investors eyed the jobs report and developments in Greece ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.

On the data front in Europe, Spanish unemployment fell 2.25 percent in June from a month earlier.

BP rallies on oil spill settlement

BP closed around 4.5 percent higher after officials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana announced an $18.7 billion settlementthat resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The boost to BP helped drive the FTSE 100 to a positive close.

Serco ended 4.4 percent higher, building on gains seen on Wednesday, after the U.K. outsourcing company said trading in the year to date had been "a little better than expected".

However, shares of Electrolux fell to the bottom of benchmarks, tumbling more than 10 percent after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the company's acquisition of GE's appliances unit.

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