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Europe ends under pressure; commodities eyed; Air France up 10.7%

Europe's stock markets finished mixed on Thursday as optimism on earnings failed to completely offset turbulence surrounding various commodities and the performance in U.S. markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 finished roughly flat, with weak trade in U.S. weighing on sentiment.

France's CAC came off session highs to close 0.15 percent up, while Germany's DAX ended 0.9 percent higher. London's FTSE 100 however slumped 1 percent, as several U.K. listed miners slipped.

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FTSE
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IBEX 35
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An initial rise in the price of oil gave a lift to market sentiment, after Iran said it supported a production "ceiling" to stabilize prices, however this didn't mean a commitment to limit Iran's production. Prices, however, came under pressure after the EIA reported that U.S. crude stockpiles had risen by 2.1 million barrels in the last week. Brent last hovered around $34.40, while U.S. crude dipped below $31.

Inside the oil and gas sector, Tullow Oil sank to the bottom of Europe's benchmarks, off more than 11 percent after the oil and gas producer said it had to change some of its operational procedures at its Jubilee field in Ghana, having identified a potential equipment issue.

The sector closed 0.9 percent down, however Seadrill finished up near 2 percent, with Total also closing in the green.

Basic Resources stocks continued to come under pressure as metal prices saw more declines. Glencore and Rio Tinto both closed sharply lower, while an increase in gold and silver prices boosted precious metal firms Fresnillo and Randgold Resources.

Anglo American was off some 7.7 percent, as its credit rating was downgraded to "junk" by Standard & Poor's on Thursday. Fitch Ratings and Moody's have also cut their ratings on the miner's debt this week.

Air France-KLM surges; Nestle falls

On the earnings front, hotel group Accor reported a 2.3 percent rise in full year sales for 2015, to 5.58 billion euros ($6.2 billion) but said booking cancellations after the Paris terrorist attacks led to a sharp drop in France. Shares finished 2.7 percent higher.

Air France-KLM surged some 10.7 percent after it swung to profit in 2015, posting operating profit of 816 million euros ($909 million) compared with a 129 million euro loss in 2014.

Meanwhile, Nestle anticipated "softer pricing" in 2016 after reporting results that missed analyst expectations, sending shares sliding 3.7 percent.

British defence firm BAE Systems said that it expects its earnings per share to grow up to 10 percent in 2016 from the 2015 level of 36.6 pence, sending shares over 1 percent higher.

Europe's top performer was Indivior, up 15.8 percent, after the pharmaceuticals firm reported better-than-expected earnings for 2015.

Europe's Banks was the worst performing sector, off some 2.3 percent, with several Italian banks at the bottom of Europe's benchmarks. This comes as the European Central Bank said risk for the euro zone economy have grown, according to its latest minutes release.

On the whole, Europe's earnings picture remains mixed. On the STOXX Europe 600 index, almost half of businesses have reported results so far, and 47 percent missed expectations, according to Reuters.

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