European stocks close lower as investor sentiment remains cautious

  • European markets closed in negative territory on Thursday as investors remained cautious in the face of Brexit and Italy budget difficulties in Europe.
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended lower by 0.65 percent, with all major indexes in negative territory.

European markets traded in negative territory on Thursday as investors remained cautious in the face of Brexit and Italy budget difficulties in Europe, and wider geopolitical tensions.

By the end of trade, the pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 0.65 percent, with all major country indexes in negative territory.

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In terms of sectors, Travel & Leisure stood alone as a winner, up 0.32 percent. Basic Resources was the worst performing sector, down 1.55 percent.

Looking at individual stocks, Centrica finished down 9.02 percent. This after the owner of British Gas lost 372,000 home energy accounts in four months amid rising competition.

The board of Japanese auto giant Nissan has voted to remove Carlos Ghosn from the role of Chairman and Representative Director.

Nissan said on its website Monday that it will now form an advisory committee to propose nominations from the board of directors for Ghosn's replacement. A separate committee to review Nissan's governance and executive pay is also to be created.

Brexit progress continues to dominate European headlines on Thursday. Sterling jumped 1.2 percent after Britain and EU political leaders agreed in principle to a text setting out their future relationship. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday, "The Commission president has informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators' level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders."

May said progress was being made on a draft agreement on future EU-U.K. relations (a separate agreement from the Brexit deal) but Spain has threatened to vote against the draft Brexit deal if it is left out of talks on the future status of Gibraltar, a British territory on Spain's southern coast. There is a meeting of EU leaders on Sunday at which they are expected to endorse the draft Brexit deal.

U.K. opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in the House of Commons on Thursday that he deal was the "worst of all worlds."

His comments came soon after the publication of the political declaration on the framework for the U.K.'s future relations with the European Union.

Meanwhile, Italy's budget continues to cause a headache for Europe too. With Italy refusing to budge on its big spending plans for 2019, the European Commission announced on Wednesday that it is starting disciplinary measures against Italy which could result in it being fined. Investors are also keeping an eye on global trade developments.

Italian banks fell after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said the government would not backtrack on its expansionary 2019 budget law following a rejection by the EU Commission.

Oil prices dipped on Thursday after U.S. crude inventories increased to their highest level since December 2017, fueling more concerns of a possible oversupply in markets.

U.S. financial markets are closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving public holiday and there are no major earnings Thursday. Data releases include preliminary euro area consumer confidence numbers for November.