European equities finished sharply lower on Thursday, as oil prices and a fall in Rolls-Royce shares dented investor sentiment.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index came under pressure in later trade, closing down 1.6 percent with all sectors ending in negative territory. This despite the European Central Bank (ECB) hinting at more monetary easing.
Mario Draghi, the ECB's president, warned Thursday morning that signs of a sustained turnaround in core inflation had weakened and reiterated that the bank was looking at a "range of instruments available in case more accommodation should be seen as necessary."
Addressing the European parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, he said that "downside risks stemming from global growth and trade are clearly visible" in the euro zone. The euro fell against the dollar and sterling following his remarks, trading around $1.07 against the greenback.
Stocks staged a brief recovery after the remarks but quickly lost territory again, and sank lower throughout the trading session.
In stocks news, British engine maker Rolls-Royce's share price fell over 19 percent following the company's latest downgrade to its 2016 profit forecast. It was the worst performer on London's FTSE index.
The U.K.'s best performer was BAE Systems, closing up 3.8 percent, after the defense company said it sees good sales growth in 2015.
Shares of Siemens finished trade 1.9 percent higher after the German industrial group said it expected a double-digit rise in earnings for its current fiscal year provided that markets pick up for some of its key businesses.
Shares in RWE were ended down 9.6 percent, after the German utility said it would only barely reach its full-year net profit target. This weighed on other utility companies, including E.ON, down 3.2 percent.
Oil prices tank
Oil price extended losses on Thursday after government data showed a build in U.S. crude stockpiles for the seventh consecutive week. This came after futures fell to a 2½-month low earlier during the day's trade.
Oil prices tumbled over 2 percent by the close, with Brent last standing at $44.45, while U.S. crude dropped lower too, at $41.89. Futures had steadied during earlier trade as technical buying and gasoline demand offset concerns over a global supply glut. Oil stocks took a hit on the back of this, with SBM Offshore down 5.5 percent, while both Tullow Oil and Statoil closed over 3.5 percent lower.
Mining stocks came under pressure too on Thursday, with Glencore and Anglo American finishing down over 7.5 percent. The falling share prices come as weak Chinese credit data sent copper prices tumbling, due to concerns of China's slowing economic growth. Antofagasta and BHP Billiton closed over 4.5 percent lower.
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