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Europe closes largely lower; BoE holds rates

European stocks closed largely lower on Thursday, as crude prices hit fresh lows and the Bank of England (BoE) held its key interest rate unchanged.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was around 0.6 percent lower during the afternoon.

The French CAC index closed just below the flatline, as did Britain's FTSE 100, which pared gains after the BoE rate decision.

The BoE maintained its key interest rate at 0.5 percent. However, there was a split among of the rate-setting committee, with Ian McCafferty the one member in favor of hiking rates to 0.75 percent.

Sterling reacted negatively, falling over 0.5 percent against the dollar after the decision came out.

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FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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Among the other major European bourses, Germany's DAX dropped 0.4 percent lower.

Greek stocks rebounded to close up 3.7 percent in their fourth day of trade after re-opening.

The country's banking stocks staged a comeback, after a three-day hammering, with the National Bank of Greece closing up over 27 percent.

European and U.S. stocks were hit by a rout in oil prices. Brent crude and WTI light crude traded near their lowest levels since March, with Brent below $49 per barrel and WTI around $44.30.

Oil and gas stocks in Europe were hit, ending down around 1.7 percent on average. Tullow Oil was the worst performer, closing 7.8 percent lower.

Earnings round-up

Shares in Old Mutual closed around 4.8 percent higher after the company reported a 20 percent rise in adjusted operating profit for the first half of 2015.

Munich Re topped the German DAX, with shares up 1.5 percent after it raised its 2015 profit outlook.

At the other end of indexes, shares of Zurich Insurance closed down 4.6 percent after it reported worse-than-expected second-quarter profits and said that a potential acquisition of the U.K.'s RSA would be a "complimentary fit".

Shares of RSA Insurance Group closed down 2.7 percent. Stephen Hester, the CEO of RSA and former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, said it was possible there were "synergies" between RSA and Zurich.

However, he added that "The only thing on the table right now is us continuing as a standalone company."

Deutsche Post dropped 3.6 percent after the logistics company cut its 2015 profit target after taking a 100 million euro ($109 million) hit due to a series of strikes.

Novo Nordisk lifted its profit outlook for the year after better-than-expected sales of one of its key drugs, but shares closed roughly 3.5 percent lower.

Novozymes shares got hammered, closing down nearly 13 percent, after the biotech company reported worse-than-expected earnings and cut its sales outlook for the year.