Europe markets close mixed as ECB holds rates; Britain votes;

Markets in Europe closed mixed Thursday afternoon after the European Central Bank (ECB) held interest rates flat and eyes turned to the U.K.'s general election. The euro fell on the decision, trading at $1.1219 by late Thursday deals.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day flat at 0.01 percent, with 10 of the 18 sectors in positive territory.

Banks and the insurance sectors were among the best performers in afternoon deals as the financial services sector breathed a sigh of relief at the ECB's widely anticipated decision to hold interest rates at 0 percent. The central bank also dropped the reference to future rate cuts.

Elsewhere, according to Reuters, Italian banks are assessing a rescue plan for Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca by injecting 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) of private capital into the regional lenders. The Spanish bank Santander rose 5.2 percent recovering from some losses on Wednesday after announcing a decision to buy the troubled Banco Popolar. It was trading at the top of the European benchmark by the close of play Thursday.

Basic resources and utility stocks were also up more than 1 percent following news that miners could start exploring a lithium project in the Czech Republic and some rating upgrades supported the sectors. Utility firm E.ON was among the best-performing stocks across the European benchmark, up by 4.2 percent.

On the other end, telecoms were lower by 1.17 percent, with Vodafone trailing at the bottom of the benchmark, down 4.8 percent. Auto Trader was also seen near the bottom of the benchmark, down 3 percent, despite announcing a 9 percent jump in full-year revenues.

Meanwhile, U.S. markets were mixed in early deals as eyes turned to the former FBI director James Comey and his testimony to the Senate over his dismissal by President Donald Trump over an investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election. The Nasdaq had reached record highs in opening deals.

UK election underway

Voters in the U.K. are heading to polling stations, choosing the country's next Parliament. Polls on the eve of the election indicated that Prime Minister Theresa May will win the vote and increase her parliamentary majority.

In the last hours of the campaign, she refocused her speech towards Brexit, moving on from the security debate that had overtaken the campaign since a terrorist attack last Saturday.

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