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Europe closes higher, after an explosion of earnings

European stocks closed higher on Thursday after an onslaught of earnings, but Spanish stocks underperformed to close lower.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.6 percent, despite earlier session volatility.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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The majority of European bourses closed in the green, with Britain's FTSE 100 and French CAC both finishing trade around 0.6 percent higher. The German DAX ended 0.4 percent higher.

However, Spain's IBEX 35 bucked the trend, finishing in the red, down around 1 percent.

U.S. equities traded lower on Thursday as investors digested a slew of corporate earnings, U.S. economic data and the Federal Reserve's decision to leave interest rates unchanged.

Bumper earnings day

In Europe it was also another mega day for earnings.

Royal Dutch Shell said earnings in the second quarter, on a current cost of supplies basis, came in at $3.4 billion - down from $5.1 billion for the same quarter a year ago.

The Anglo–Dutch multinational also said lower oil prices could continue for a number of years, but the company's stock finished trading almost 5 percent up.

Safran, meanwhile, soared to the Stoxx 600's top spot, ending 10 percent up, after it lifted its core profit forecast.

Telecom equipment maker Nokia reported a 51 percent year-on-year rise in profits in the second quarter of 2015, with operating profit in its key networks business up 11 percent. Shares surged near the top of the Stoxx 600, closing 7.5 percent up.

Deutsche Bank reported second-quarter earnings in line with expectations, but said litigation charges were 1.2 billion euros, dragging down the group's bottom line. Despite this, Deutsche Bank stocks was a top performer on Thursday, finishing over 5 percent up.

However, Renault shares plunged to the bottom of the Stoxx 600, finishing down 8 percent, after the French carmaker said new registrations were up just 0.8 percent in the first half of the year.

In other news

In afternoon trade European markets dropped sharply after the Financial Times cited a report of Wednesday's board meeting of the International Monetary Fund that raised doubts over whether the institution would be able to participate in Greece's third bailout.

Shortly afterwards however, bourses recovered to trade back in the green.

Read MoreIMF cannot join Greek rescue, board told

Official data on Thursday suggested the U.S. economy grew by 2.3 percent in the second quarter, less than the 2.5 percent or more forecast by economists.

This came after the Federal Reserve kept rates unchanged on Wednesday and gave no hint that a hike might be coming in the next meeting.