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Europe closes lower; earnings dominate

European stocks ended largely lower on Thursday, after a a mixed bag of earnings from some of Europe's largest companies.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 finished the day in the red, down by around 0.5 percent.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index ended down roughly 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX closed down around 0.1 percent lower. The French CAC managed to hold onto some gains, ending flat.

The SIX Swiss exchange however outperformed, with the benchmark index ending around 1.0 percent higher after a number of positive second-quarter earnings results from Switzerland.

Most notably, Credit Suisse bounced to close over 6 percent higher after it posted second-quarter profit ahead of expectations.Tidjane Thiam, the new chief executive of the bank, hinted to CNBC that it might opt for a capital hike at some point.

ABB shares also rose, closing trade around 1.7 percent higher, after the company's net profit beat analyst expectations.

Other major earnings came from pharmaceuticals giant Roche, which posted a better-than-expected 3 percent rise in sales in the first half of 2015, with its cancer drugs managing to offset currency headwinds. Shares in the company closed up around 1.6 percent.

The index's worst performer was Syngenta, which closed down 0.8 percent. The agrochemical company posted better than expected earnings on Thursday, but CEO Mike Mack told CNBC that the recent bid by rival group Monsanto "failed in every dimension" and was not open to negotiations.

Outside of Switzerland, top performers included Pearson, whose shares closed roughly 2.1 percent higher after the U.K. publishing group said that its Financial Times Group would be bought by Japan's Nikkei Inc. for £844 million ($1.3 billion).

Plus, Unilever shares closed around 1.6 percent up after it reported higher-than-expected sales growth for the first half of the year.

However, shares of Daily Mail & General Trust plummeted to the bottom of the STOXX 600 to close 8.7 percent lower, after the U.K. media company warned that its full year results would arrive at the lower end of market expectations.

Commodities, Greece eyed

Beyond earnings, investors also watched the commodity space. Spot gold edged up modestly from a five-year low, after chalking up its 10th straight day of losses—its longest losing streak in almost 20 years.

WTI crude oil remained below $50 as rising U.S. stockpiles and a strong dollar weighed on the commodity. However, Brent crude edged up to around $56 level by the European close.


Meanwhile, Greece remained in the spotlight. Six thousand anti-austerity demonstrators gathered late on Wednesday after Greek Prime Minister Tsipras gained lawmakers' approval to pass reforms demanded by creditors.

On Thursday, Greece's leading think tank warned that the economy could contract by between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year and would remain in recession in 2016.