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Europe ends up 2% on ECB QE hints; euro slips, earnings eyed

European equities finished sharply higher on Thursday, after the European Central Bank hinted at further stimulus for the euro zone and Europe delivered a fresh round of corporate earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 shot up to close 2 percent higher provisionally, with all sectors closing in positive territory.

The French CAC and German DAX cheered Draghi's comments, with both shares soaring to close over 2.2 percent up. Britain's FTSE 100 finished 0.4 percent up.

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FTSE
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IBEX 35
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The European Central Bank left its key interest rates unchanged at 0.05 percent on Thursday, which left markets unfazed.

However, at the monetary policy meeting's press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank's policy would need to be "re-examined" in December. He added that the governing council would be ready to use all its available instruments within its mandate. This suggests that the quantitative easing program could be extended beyond September 2016.

While the euro remained steady by the ECB's decision to hold rates, after QE hints, the euro slipped sharply lower, down 1.6 percent against the U.S. dollar at $1.11, around the close.

Wall Street climbed sharply higher on the back of the ECB's decision, while Asia finished mixed, over concerns on China's economy.

Earnings: Novozymes surges 10%, Publicis tanks

A flood of earnings has also been announced. Danish enzyme maker Novozymes saw shares shoot up to close 10.8 percent higher, after reporting third quarter earnings that were slightly higher than analyst expectations but narrowed its organic sales growth guidance for the year.

French telecoms operator Orange saw a rise in third-quarter revenue and raised its profit target for the year, sending shares to close up 7.5percent.

Sticking with French companies, Eurotunnel said that third-quarter revenue rose 3 percent to 334.4 million euros ($379.48 million) but the Channel Tunnel operator said it saw rail freight tonnage fall, which it blamed on disruption from the migrant crisis in Calais. Shares finished 4.4 percent higher.

Meanwhile, Publicis shares tanked over 7 percent after it cut its full-year sales growth outlook to 1 percent from 2.5 percent citing customers cutting or delaying marketing projects.

French spirits maker Pernod Ricard said overall sales in its fiscal first quarter rose 3 percent year-on-year, but sales fell 9 percent in China in the period. Still, shares soared to close up 5.2 percent.

Elsewhere, German carmaker Daimler reported earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 31 percent year-on-year to 3.66 billion euros helped by Western Europe and China. Shares closed over 3 percent higher.

Finland's second-biggest retailer Kesko reported a drop in its quarterly profits amid tough price competition and poor consumer demand, causing shares to tumble to the bottom of the STOXX 600, off 12.8 percent.

And mining group Anglo American reported a mixed production report on Thursday, but notably said it lowered its diamond production "to better reflect current trading conditions", sending shares to end 1.3 percent lower. Basic resources however finished sharply higher, with Glencore up 5.9 percent.

Oil prices posted solid gains on Thursday, powered up by technical buying. Brent rose to $48.02 a barrel, while U.S. crude stood at $45.36. Most oil stocks jumped on the back of this, with Seadrill closing up 5.9 percent.