Europe Markets

Europe ends mixed as ECB, OPEC adds pressure to sentiment


European stocks ended mixed to slightly lower by Thursday's close, as investors digested the latest news out of OPEC and from the European Central Bank.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended up 0.1 percent provisionally, in what had been a choppy session of trade.

The U.K. FTSE fell 0.1 percent around the close, with the French CAC slipped 0.2 percent. Germany's DAX however hovered slightly above the flat line. Sectors ended mixed to mostly higher.

No change from OPEC

Oil prices fluctuated on Thursday afternoon, with Brent crude and WTI futures wavering around the flat line as news from OPEC and new data impacted sentiment across the globe. Prices initially sank in afternoon trade after OPEC refrained from changing its oil output policy, meaning the organization failed to agree a new production ceiling, an OPEC delegate told Reuters.

Prices did however pare losses by the end of Europe's trading session, after U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the previous week, according to the Energy Information Administration.

While the oil sector closed lower overall, basic resources saw an uptick, with ArcelorMittal closing up over 5 percent and Voestalpine jumping 4.3 percent on the back of positive set of earnings results.

In markets overseas, U.S. stock markets were slightly lower at Europe's close; while in Asia, Japan's Nikkei saw sharp declines after the government moved to delay a sales-tax hike for more than two years.

ECB holds rates

A worker checks the valve of an oil pipe at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, Iraq.
OPEC agrees to no change in policy, no ceiling: Delegate

Banks, meanwhile were also in focus on Thursday, as investors closely watched the latest monetary policy decision from the ECB. At Thursday's meeting the Governing Council decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00 percent, 0.25 percent and -0.40 percent respectively.

President Mario Draghi warned of downside risks related to the global economy and the so-called "Brexit" vote in the U.K. The bank now sees growth of 1.6 percent for 2016, up from a 1.4 percent forecast in March.

It left its growth forecast for 2017 unchanged and trimmed its forecast for 2018 to 1.8 percent. Inflation is seen at 0.2 percent compared to a previous forecast of 0.1 percent. Inflation is expected to pick up in the second half of 2016 and recover in 2017 and 2018, Draghi said at a press conference.

Very pleased with the oil market today: OPEC secretary general

In individual stocks, Banco Popular was one of the STOXX 600's top gainers, ending over 5 percent up. The bank was lifted by positive comments made by HSBC on the sector, according to Reuters. Overall however, banks closed slightly below the flat line.

Marks and Spencer however fell near the bottom of Europe's benchmarks, after UBS cut its price target on the stock. Shares were off more than 2.5 percent.

On Thursday, Fingerprint Cards announced that it had appointed a new CEO, as it looks to develop and expand itself in new market spaces. Shares however fell to the bottom of the STOXX 600 on Thursday, off 9.5 percent.

—CNBC's Antonia Matthews and Christina Cheddar Berk contributed to this report.

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