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Europe ends higher on hopes of ECB stimulus; Abengoa slumps

European equities ended higher Thursday as investors anticipated more stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB) when it meets next week.

Infineon gains

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The Stoxx Europe 600 index provisionally finished around 0.9 percent higher in what was a quiet day of trade with U.S. markets closed due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Germany's DAX and the French CAC both ended over 1 percent higher, while London's FTSE closed around 0.9 percent up.

The biggest climber in Europe was German auto and industrial chip maker Infineon after it reported fiscal fourth-quarter operating profit up 52 percent. Shares of the company surged 13 percent higher.

Embattled automaker Volkswagen was also another high-climber, ending around 3 percent higher in spite of news out of South Korea that its was recalling 125,000 vehicles. Overnight, The New York Times reported that VW had found a fix for its European diesel cars.

In the U.K., the Daily Mail and General Trust closed up 4.6 percent after it announced the sale of its Wowcher online voucher company for £29 million to a private equity-led company.

Abengoa loses over 30%

The biggest faller in Europe was Spanish energy group Abengoa, tanking over 30 percent on news Wednesday that it had started insolvency proceedings. The International Swaps & Derivatives Association is meeting Thursday to discuss whether the company is in default.

Meanwhile, drinks maker Remy Cointreau closed down 3 percent after it announced a 7.3 percent fall in first-half profit due to soft sales in China.

ECB stimulus on the way?

Meanwhile, the meeting of the ECB's monetary policy committee next Tuesday (December 3) was firmly in focus for markets in Europe with expectations that the central bank could introduce more stimulus measures to revive inflation and boost growth in the region.

The euro touched more than seven-month low of $1.0565 on Wednesday as speculation mounted over what form the stimulus might take, before bouncing back to trade over $1.06. Euro zone central bank officials told Reuters that they are considering options such as staggering charges on banks hoarding cash and buying more debt ahead of next week's ECB meeting.

Russia-Turkey tensions

In other news, tensions are still running high between Russia and Turkey after the latter downed a warplane belonging to Russia on Tuesday. Russia has sent an advanced missile system to the Syrian-Turkey border to protect its jets that are continuing to carry out airstrikes in that area, in a defiant stance towards Turkey.

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