Looking across Europe, autos, banks, basic resources, technology and travel all saw sectoral drops of 2 percent or more each by the close. The retail sector also hit fresh lows, plummeting to its lowest since October 2014 during the session. Inditex, Next and Dufry AG were some of the sector's worst performers, all closing down 3 percent each or more.
Europe's basic resources led the losses, down 2.74 percent by the close after the U.S. Treasury said it will lift sanctions on aluminum giant Rusal. Antofagasta, Boliden and ArcelorMittal all posted sharp losses, all ending trade down more than 3.5 percent each.
Energy stocks came under pressure, as both Brent and U.S. light crude fell over 4 percent each around Europe's close, as concerns surrounding oversupply and the outlook for the market's demand weighed.
Looking at individual stocks, Airbus shares slumped 9 percent Thursday morning on reports the company is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for "inappropriate practices." By the market close, shares had pared losses to sit 4.44 percent lower.
The STOXX 600's biggest loser was Carnival, which dropped 10.83 percent after posting its latest earnings update. In the release, the cruise operator said that it expected adjusted earnings per share for 2019's first quarter to be between 40 cents and 44 cents; below analyst estimates of 45 cents per share, Reuters reported.