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European markets closed sharply lower on Thursday, impacted by steep losses in U.S. stocks.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed the session provisionally down by 1.95 percent, with financial services and oil and gas stocks leading the losses. A dramatic sell-off on Wall Street in the previous session had prompted the European benchmark to fall to its its lowest level in more than 21 months before it recovered slightly.
However that up tick was short-lived as renewed selling on both sides of the Atlantic gathered pace. At one point in the mid-afternoon, the two-day loss on the Dow Jones Industrial Average had reached 1,100 points.
Global equity markets have tumbled in recent days on the back of heightened fears about global economic growth and rising interest rates. In the United States, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is on course for its worst month since November 2008.
Looking at individual stocks in Europe, Britain's WH Smith plummeted to the bottom of the index after announcing new plans to restructure its high street stores. Shares of the London-listed stock finished down 11.16 percent on the news.
Britain's Hays also traded sharply lower, after the recruitment agency warned currency headwinds could hit its fiscal 2019 year. Shares of the company ended lower by 10.4 percent
Meanwhile, shares in Germany's Dialog Semiconductor rose 16.58 percent sit atop the Stoxx 600 index on Thursday. The company's shares soared after it announced a new $600 million deal with Apple.
Market players were also digesting comments from President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, he criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve once again, calling the central bank "crazy" for its insistence on hiking rates.
The U.S. president also commented on the plunge in markets, calling it a "correction that we've been waiting for a long time."
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned earlier this week that simmering trade tensions, such as those between the U.S. and China, could lead to a "sudden deterioration in risk sentiment, triggering a broad-based correction in global capital markets and a sharp tightening of global financial conditions."
Back in Europe, Brexit is largely in focus after the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, struck an optimistic tone on a deal for the U.K.'s eventual withdrawal from the bloc, saying an agreement was achievable as soon as next week.
Barnier stressed, however, that the U.K. remaining in the customs union would be the best possible solution to avoiding a hard border between the Irish mainland and Northern Ireland.
In corporate news, German carmaker BMW announced it is investing $4.2 billion in a joint venture with Chinese firm Brilliance Auto — giving it a majority stake.
BMW is the first major carmaker to take control of a joint venture within China.