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Europe slumps 3% at close after ECB disappoints on QE

European equities closed sharply under pressure Thursday after investors were left disappointed by the measures announced by the European Central Bank (ECB).

ECB unveils stimulus

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The pan-European STOXX 600 fell sharply, finishing down 3.1 percent provisionally. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX slumped sharply, both closing down 3.6 percent. London's FTSE also slipped, ending 2.3 percent lower.

Investors were left disheartened following the latest news out of the ECB monetary policy committee meeting. The European Central Bank's president Mario Draghi said that the bank would extend its asset purchase program until at least March 2017.

The ECB also announced that it would extend the range of assets eligible for purchase to include debt issued by local and regional governments. However. analysts suggested Draghi offered markets the "bare minimum of easing", resulting in the sell-off seen in stocks.

Export-exposed stocks sink; Oil prices jump

Sectors with high exposure to exports fell dramatically following the disappointing news out of the ECB, as the euro soared.

Autos finished down 3.2 percent, while luxury brands plummeted. LVMH, Christian Dior and Burberry all closed 2.8 percent or more down. National Bank of Greece tanked 30 percent.

Oil prices were 1.4 percent up or more by Thursday's close, following on a report sourced to a senior OPEC delegate said Saudi Arabia would propose a deal to balance oil markets with help from non-OPEC members in 2016.

Brent was up 82 cents at $43.32 a barrel while U.S. crude was at $40.40, as investors awaited for news from the OPEC meeting this week. The oil and gas sector however ended over 3.5 percent down.

Out of the handful of stocks trading up, Snam was Europe's top performer, up 3.4 percent, after Italy's energy regulator set new criteria for investment returns. Fellow Italian grid TERNA also finished higher, at 0.6 percent.

Shares in Delta Lloyd plummeted over 10.5 percent, after Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to "neutral" and Morgan Stanley cut its target price.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's shares slipped 3.6 percent following an announcement that it was looking to sell SABMiller's premium beer brands to address potential EU antitrust concerns over its acquisition of SABMiller.

UK agrees to Syria airstrikes

In other news, U.K. politicians voted on Wednesday to join other Western countries in airstrikes in Syria against the militant Islamist group, so-called Islamic State. After more than 10 hours of debate, 397 members of parliament (MPs) voted in favor of airstrikes, 223 against. It was reported that the first U.K. airstrikes were carried out in Syria overnight.

Markets have also been shaken by a mass shooting in San Bernardino in California, where at least 14 people were killed and wounded 17.

Aside from the ECB and OPEC, investors will be looking ahead to November's U.S. jobs report this Friday, which if successful, could bolster the case for the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates at its December meeting.

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