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European shares finish lower on light holiday trade

Key Points
  • Trade is lighter than usual on Thursday, amid the holiday season
  • Oil prices in focus after crude futures hit a more than two-year high earlier on this week

European markets moved lower on Thursday amid a light holiday-week of trade seen across markets worldwide.

The STOXX Europe 600 closed provisionally down 0.33 percent, with most indices trading in the red or around the flatline. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 held its value on average, as miners ticked higher.

Trade was relatively lighter than usual on Thursday as markets across the globe try and get back to business amid the break between the holidays and New Year.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

One of the best performers on the index was retailer Steinhoff, up 2.98 percent, despite a downgrade by Moody's.

Meantime, a number of telecom and technology companies fell to the bottom of Europe's benchmarks, including BT, Ericsson, Immarsat and Nokia. BT was sharply down, after the stock traded ex-dividend.

In stocks news, Airbus is reportedly putting together contingency plans to axe production of the A380 superjumbo if it fails to win a key order from Dubai's Emirates, Reuters has reported citing three people familiar with the matter. Airbus shares fell more than 1.3 percent Thursday.

Meantime, Banco BPM finished the day near the top of Europe's benchmarks, after it announced that it had exceeded the European Central Bank's capital requirements, which is slated to go into effect in 2018. Fellow Italian lender BPER Banca also traded sharply higher, up 2.75 percent for the session.

In commodity markets, oil was in focus after crude futures hit a more than two-year high earlier on this week. Prices were relatively flat on Thursday, with Brent trading around $66.40 and U.S crude hovering above $59.50. Meantime, mining stocks rose on the back of an uptick in metal prices.

Elsewhere, bitcoin fell 11 percent on Thursday after South Korea's government announced it would implement new rules in a bid to regulate trade in the digital currency in the country. South Korea is a major hub for bitcoin.

In the U.S. stocks opened higher Thursday as investors remained relatively confident about future economic growth.