European stocks closed lower on Thursday.
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended off around 1.6 percent, with all of Europe's sectors posting declines. All major bourses closed in negative territory, with Germany's DAX leading the losses, down more than 2.6 percent.
Volatile trading continues to be seen across markets worldwide this week, with Asia-Pacific markets closing mostly higher. Stateside, the Dow Jones industrial average was down over 1.4 percent, as U.S. bond yields crept back towards multi-year highs.
Earnings season continues to shake up sentiment, with a number of major companies posting financial figures Thursday.
Zurich Insurance pared almost all of its gains to end marginally lower after earnings beat expectations. Full-year net profit came in at $3 billion, having fallen 6 percent — however this surpassed analyst estimates of $2.72 billion, according to a Reuters poll. Sticking with the sector, Swiss Re closed up around 2 percent after the firm had said it was in talks with Japan's Softbank about a "potential minority investment." The insurer added discussions were "at a very early stage."
TDC saw shares skyrocket almost 18 percent after the telecoms operator confirmed that it had received — and then rejected — a takeover approach from Australia's Macquarie and three Danish pension funds.
In banking, Societe Generale posted an 82 percent drop in quarterly net income, impacted by restructuring costs and tax-related charges. Despite this, the results topped expectations and shares closed nearly 2 percent higher. Commerzbank saw a 51 percent fall in net profit during its fourth quarter, as the lender turned its attention to a major overhaul. Shares ended down more than 2 percent on the news.
UniCredit shares closed up over 2 percent after results topped analyst expectations, while fellow Italian bank Banco BPM eked out gains after it raised its target for reducing bad loans, according to Reuters.
The Bank of England's monetary policy committee voted unanimously to keep interest rates unchanged Thursday. The central bank also indicated the need for interest rates earlier and potentially more frequently than previously predicted.
Sterling spiked against the dollar on the news as higher rates in an economy tend to favor the local currency with the anticipation of more investment. The pound nearly hit 1.400 against the greenback after trading close to 1.388.
—Reuters contributed to this report