- The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.34 percent lower, though the U.K. FTSE and some sectors pared losses from earlier on in the afternoon's trading
- U.K. retailer Marks and Spencer dropped in afternoon trade to finish Thursday over 7 percent lower, while Britain's biggest retailer Tesco was down 4.5 percent
- Shares of Pandora fell by more than 11 percent after the Danish jewelry maker said it anticipated profit margins to decline over the next few years
European markets closed lower Thursday afternoon as investors reacted to the release of corporate earnings and economic data.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.34 percent lower, though the U.K. FTSE and some sectors pared losses from earlier on in the afternoon's trading.
Telecoms and retail were the two worst performing sectors, closing down 1.49 and 1.37 percent respectively on corporate earnings.
U.K. retailer Marks and Spencer dropped in afternoon trade to finish Thursday over 7 percent lower, impacted by its fourth quarter earnings report. Chief Executive Steve Rowe described 2017's October to December business as "mixed", with "a weak clothing market in October and ongoing under-performance in our food like-for-like sales."
Britain's biggest retailer Tesco was also one of Europe's biggest fallers, down over 4.5 percent after the firm missed Christmas trading forecasts. Tesco said robust sales of fresh food were offset by lower demand for general goods.
Basic resources was the best performing sector Thursday, up 0.61 percent, followed by oil and gas and banks.
Looking at individual stocks, Hexagon shares surged to the top of the Stoxx 600, closing up 5.75 percent. A Norwegian court cleared the group's CEO of insider trading late Wednesday.
Hays also did well, closing up over 4.2 percent. The British recruiter published higher second-quarter net fees, boosted by strong international business.
Meanwhile, shares of Pandora foundered near the bottom of the Stoxx 600, lower by nearly 11 percent after the Danish jewelry maker said it anticipated profit margins to decline over the next few years. The group's CEO Anders Colding Friis said a challenging U.S. retail environment and unfavorable currency developments had hampered revenues in 2017, Reuters reported.
On the data front, industrial production in the euro area jumped 1 percent in November, further suggesting that manufacturers ended 2017 on a high. The data were 3.2 percent higher when compared to November 2016.
The German economy will likely grow by around 2.25 percent in 2018, according to the president of the BDI industry association. Dieter Kempf said Thursday that while he did not see any real risk of overheating, the main risks for Europe's largest economy would likely stem from abroad, Reuters reported.
Stateside, U.S. stocks were performing well. After a positive open, the Dow Jones industrial average hit an all-time high on Thursday as investors hoped for more economic growth. Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar spearheaded the rise. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite also hit a record high as Apple shares rose 0.3 percent.