European stocks closed just below the flat line Thursday afternoon, as heightened expectations of faster interest rate hikes in the U.S. hampered risk appetite globally.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.08 percent down, with major bourses and sectors pointing in different directions.
The U.K. FTSE 100 was the worst performing major index, closing lower by 0.4 percent. This was an improvement on trade earlier in the afternoon, when it was over 1 percent lower. The French CAC and German DAX were both close to the flat line.
Utilities was the standout sector, closing up 1.45 percent. Centrica, which owns British Gas, topped the sector by closing up 7.5 percent. After announcing a fall in operating profit, it announced plans to cut 4,000 jobs in an attempt to save on costs.
Household goods was the sector that had fallen the furthest, closing down 0.72 percent. Earlier in the afternoon it had been more than 1.3 percent lower.
The basic resources sector rebounded in afternoon trade, closing just 0.04 percent in the red.
Mining company Anglo American's stock told a similar story. It had slipped to the bottom of the sector earlier after reporting its latest figures, a 45 percent increase in annual earnings last year as it continued to recover from the commodity markets crash in 2015 and 2016. Despite shares trading over 2.5 percent lower at lunchtime, Anglo American's stock recovered its losses, closing positively at 0.19 percent.
Barclays reported weaker-than-expected earnings Thursday. A below-forecast 10 percent rise in annual profit for 2017 was hit, in part, by the U.S. tax overhaul and a weaker dollar. But, its shares closed up 4.4 percent.
Denmark's Genmab soared to the top of the benchmark Thursday after the firm reassured investors about the sales growth of its blood cancer drug Darzalex. Shares of Europe's biggest biotechnology company closed 17.7 percent higher.
Britain's Moneysupermarket.com Group slumped to near the bottom of the index after the company warned it would likely grow more slowly than its core market in 2018. Its shares tanked, ending trade lower by 13.7 percent.
Fed meeting minutes
U.S. stocks were trading higher Thursday, trying to break a two-day losing streak. The Dow Jones industrial average was trading 300 points higher, while the S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent, with energy and real estate both up over 1.5 percent.
The minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting outlined expectations of faster economic growth due to fiscal stimulus. The U.S. central bank confirmed in its latest meeting minutes that it was on course to raise interest rates three times this year.