Europe stocks close sharply higher after Fed; miners gain; Maersk rallies

European stocks leaped to close higher on Thursday as global investors reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to hold interest rates steady.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed around 1.6 percent higher, with all sectors in positive territory and all major bourses posting gains.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended provisionally 1.1 percent higher. The French CAC closed unofficially up 2.3 percent and the German DAX was 2.2 percent higher on the day.

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U.S. stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Fed announcement and continued to do so on Thursday.

In its post-meeting statement, the Fed expressed confidence in economic growth, but said it was insufficient for an immediate rate move.

"The committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened, but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives," the Fed's policymaking committee said in a statement.

A weaker dollar after the announcement helped the prices of all sorts of commodities, which in turn spurred buying in equities with exposure to these sectors.

In consequence, the European basic resources stock sector was a top performer on Thursday, closing around 3.8 percent higher on the day.

Strong individual stocks included Glencore and ArcelorMittal, which closed over 5 percent higher on the day, and BHP Billiton, which ended more than 4 percent up.

Meanwhile, shares of Moller-Maersk, the world's biggest shipping company, closed over 3 percent higher after it announced it would split its energy and transport divisions into separate businesses.

"The industries are challenged and we have not really been able to grow our top line," Mærsk Group CEO Søren Skou told CNBC on Thursday.

Plus, Airbus shares closed up over 2 percent despite a World Trade Organization ruling against it for receiving European government subsidies.

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