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Europe closes higher; earnings, oil in focus

European equities closed higher on Thursday as investors shrugged off the downturn in oil prices and concentrated on the latest set of corporate earnings.

The pan-European Euro STOXX 600 finished up 1.4 percent provisionally, as all sectors closed in positive territory.

London's FTSE 100 index jumped 1.1 percent provisionally, while the French CAC and German DAX soared ahead, closing up 1.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Fed fears?

Investors reacted to the release of consumer inflation data in the U.S. and earnings from big financial names such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

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FTSE
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IBEX 35
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Markets had begun the session on a positive note as weak U.S. data released Wednesday helped to quash concerns of an imminent interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. However, stocks managed to hold on to gains despite better-than-expected inflation data on Thursday afternoon.

"Today's (U.S. inflation) report should be reassuring to markets which have been on edge over global disinflation risks. It helps keep the possibility of a move at the end of this year alive, although our central scenario remains for a delay until at least March 2016," Laura Rosner, analyst at BNP Paribas, said in a note Thursday.

Oil prices tumble

Oil prices took a sharp tumble in late trade, after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. commercial crude inventories had risen by 7.6 million barrels last week. Brent last stood at $48.23 a barrel, while U.S. crude stood at $45.36. Most oil stocks however closed in positive territory.

Burberry tanks 8%

In earnings news, British luxury retailer Burberry reported first-half retail sales, up 2 percent year-on-year, missing forecasts, as the firm said revenue was impacted by an " increasingly challenging environment for luxury, particularly Chinese customers". Burberry shares tanked 8.2 percent, while other luxury brands reversed losses, closing higher.

Volkswagen saw shares slip in late trade, after it said it would recall around 8.5 million diesel-engine cars in the European Union. This after Germany requested servicing of the vehicles following a scandal over rigged emissions tests. Shares finished down 3.6 percent provisionally.

Unilever, the owner of the Dove shampoo brand, said third-quarter turnover rose 9.4 percent year-on-year to 13.4 billion euros ($15.4 billion) thanks to strong sales of ice creams and strength in Latin America. This sent shares to close up 3.6 percent provisionally.

Sales at Swiss agricultural chemicals firm Syngenta fell 12 percent year-on-year in the third quarter to $2.6 billion, however the company's stock finished trade on a higher, up 1.7 percent.