Looking across Europe, many sectors posted overall gains of more than 1 percent by the close, including insurance, banks and basic resources. Autos which was the top performing group, closing up 1.71 percent, and that sector's top gainer was Schaeffler, which closed up 6.33 percent, at the top of the STOXX 600.
In banks, Danske Bank rose close to the top of the pan-European index, up 4.7 percent, after UBS said the Danish lender's shares were still appealing from a valuation perspective, despite a money laundering scandal surrounding its Estonian branch. Denmark's financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, said Thursday it was reopening an investigation into the bank, whose CEO resigned on Wednesday.
At the other end of the European benchmark, IG Group slumped 9.78 percent, after the trading firm posted earnings. The group said first-quarter revenue had fallen by 4.7 percent, hit by a drop in market volatility and client activity.
Casino dropped over 4 percent after Goldman Sachs slashed its target price on the retail group, while fellow retailer Zalando tumbled 3 percent after UBS cut its target price on the stock.
In corporate news, Ryanair shareholders re-elected Chairman David Bonderman and Chief Executive Michael O'Leary to the company's board. However, support fell for the two executives, after the budget carrier faced industrial action that disrupted flights. O'Leary, 57, said he was reluctant to commit to signing up for a five-year contract due to his age. Shares closed down 2.4 percent.
And the U.K.'s Takeover Panel on Thursday said that a $35 billion takeover battle for British broadcaster Sky would go to an auction on Saturday if the competitive situation remains unchanged. The media bidding war pits Twenty-First Century Fox against Comcast, and could see Disney gain control of Sky if Fox emerges victorious.