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European markets close lower after ECB keeps rate steady; Deutsche Bank slips 3.6%

European markets closed slightly lower Thursday as investors digested the European Central Bank's decision to keep interest rates unchanged and assessed fresh corporate earnings.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended down 0.24 percent with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory. Germany's DAX and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 both closed down around 0.2 percent while France's CAC dipped over 0.7 percent on Thursday.

The ECB left its ultra-easy monetary policy stance unchanged on Thursday though Draghi surprised some investors by explicitly recognizing the bloc's economic recovery. The euro initially reached the day's peak of $1.0930 as Draghi struck an optimistic tone when answering questions from reporters. However, the single currency subsequently fell 0.4 percent to hit a session low after the ECB chief conceded policymakers had not discussed removing the bank's easing bias on monetary policy.

Basic resources and media stocks were among the worst performers on Thursday. The former slumped over 2.7 percent as commodity prices edged lower and Chinese iron ore futures slipped for a third session out of four.

Insurance stocks were also heading south on earnings and rating reviews. Credit Suisse amended its Legal & General rating to "under-performing" on Thursday and, as a result, the U.K.-based insurer's shares closed more than 5.4 percent lower.

Looking at individual stocks, Neste shares ended over 4.2 percent lower after the Finnish oil refining firm reported weak margins in renewable and retail products. Technipfmc also closed near the bottom of the index after the French oil and gas company announced it had approved a capital allocation plan.

Elsewhere, international private hospital group Mediclinic rose to the top of the benchmark, up by 17 percent. The London-based group could stand to benefit as the Abu Dhabi health authority scraps a 20 percent co-payment requirement at private hospitals.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 both continued little changed on Thursday as investors evaluated President Trump's one-page tax plan, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite climbed about a third of a percent to a fresh intraday record.

Draghi speech, banks report earnings

Mario Draghi explained to reporters in Frankfurt on Thursday that the central bank would be keeping its monetary policy unchanged despite "diminished" downside risks. The ECB chief stressed that while risks remained tilted toward the negative, the euro zone's economic recovery had improved the bloc's outlook.

Corporate earnings remained a key focus for investors Thursday with Deutsche Bank posting lower-than-expected revenue for its first quarter, mainly driven by a negative impact of credit spreads. Though the embattled German lender reported it had doubled its net profit to 575 million euros ($626 million). Shares in Deutsche Bank dropped 3.6 percent.

On the other hand, the Spanish lender BBVA beat expectations on Thursday after it announced a net profit increase of 1.2 billion euros compared to 709 million a year ago. Shares in bank fell 2 percent.

Data

Economic sentiment reached a near 10-year high in April, as confidence improved in all sectors and inflation expectations dropped. The European Commission's monthly survey rose to 109.6 from 108.0 in March, the highest figure since August 2011.

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