Europe Markets

Europe markets close lower on earnings; Cobham tanks 15.2%; NN down 7.6%


European markets closed lower on Thursday as investors paused for breath after fresh record closes on Wall Street in the previous session.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.37 percent lower with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Insurance stocks were among the worst performers on Thursday as insurance group NN ended close to the bottom of the European benchmark after disappointing full-year results. Its shares fell more than 7.6 percent.

The food and beverages sector also dipped lower on Thursday with food giant Nestle closing almost 1 percent lower after sales and profit missed expectations.

British engineering company Cobham was the worst-performing stock on Thursday, down by 15.2 percent after slashing its profit guidance. Ex-dividend stocks were also dragging down bourses like the FTSE 100.

However, Air France-KLM soared over 13 percent higher Thursday after reporting strong earnings. Several airlines closed higher, including Lufthansa and International Consolidated Airlines, which owns British Airways and Iberia. Elsewhere, Ericsson shares were up by 4.4 percent after media reports that Cisco was open to larger acquisitions.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 continued to move lower after stocks had hit highs for a fifth straight day in the previous session.

In other corporate news, German authorities said they were dissatisfied they were not informed that General Motors planned to sell its ailing European arm to Peugeot, according to the Financial Times. Concerns have been raised that it could result in a mass layoff in German factories, a few months away from a federal election.

Elsewhere, minutes from January's European Central Bank meeting showed that policymakers think that it's too early to withdraw any monetary stimulus.

"Most ECB members went one step further and called a possible withdrawal of stimulus potentially counterproductive as 'recent encouraging developments in inflation expectations and the prospects for a sustained adjustment in inflation towards the Governing Council's inflation could be put at risk'," Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, said in an email.

Car registrations in Europe rose 10.2 percent year-over-year in January, accelerating from a 3.0 percent rise in December. In France, data showed the unemployment rate dropping to 10 percent at the end of last year.

-CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.