Europe Markets

European markets lower after ECB keeps interest rates unchanged; Zodiac Aerospace up 22%

European markets closed slightly lower on Thursday after the European Central Bank announced it would keep its monetary policy stance unchanged.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 ended 0.06 percent lower with sectors mixed. Losses were led by major bourses with London's FTSE 100 under-performing. It closed down 0.54 percent.

President Mario Draghi of the ECB said Thursday that the bank stood "ready" to increase its asset purchases in size and duration if it becomes necessary.

The central bank said last December that it would extend the program but would begin purchasing assets at a more reduced pace as of April.

Another market focus this Thursday is in the U.S. as President-elect Trump prepares to take office on Friday. Donald Trump will be speaking at a pre-inauguration event later Thursday.

On Wall Street, both the and the broader S&P 500 reversed earlier gains to trade lower, both down by around 0.15 percent.

Zodiac Aerospace rockets higher

Banking stocks recovered some earlier losses on Thursday after several reports that U.K.-based firms were preparing to leave London once the U.K. exits the EU. The Italian Ubi Banca closed up by more than 7.3 percent after signing a deal to buy three smaller Italian banks.

In France, Safran made a $9 billion agreed cash offer to the aircraft seats manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace, paving the way to create the third largest aerospace supplier, Reuters reported. Zodiac was at the top of the European index, up by more than 22 percent.

Ahold Delhaize, the international food retail group, reported an increase in its fourth-quarter sales of 54.5 percent compared to the previous year. Its shares were up by over 5.9 percent.

Royal Mail, on the other hand, was at the bottom of the European index, closing the trading day down by more than 5.9 percent. It said Thursday that a stronger Christmas period helped the business but letter volumes in the first nine months of 2016 were down by more than 5 percent.

Ericsson shares fell 1.5 percent on Thursday after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to sell.

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