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European stocks traded lower on Thursday, as trade tensions between the U.S. and China ratcheted up.
The pan-European STOXX 600 closd provisionally down more 1.74% during afternoon deals. All sectors and major bourses were in negative territory, with the French CAC index recorded a 2% loss.
Europe's autos sector, heavily exposed to China, saw a sharp downturn on Thursday, trading 2.96% lower on the back of intensified U.S.-Sino trade frictions.
Stocks on Wall Street were trading lower on Thursday, with the Nasdaq, Dow and S&P 500 shedding value as investors awaited news from the trade talks.
Concerns about a trade war between the world's two-largest economies were fueled by comments from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said on Wednesday evening that China "broke the deal," after raising hopes earlier in the day that an agreement was in sight. Investors will be monitoring developments on Thursday as a Chinese delegation visits the U.S. to discuss trade before hefty new tariffs are imposed at midnight.
Back in Europe, German automotive supplier Continental's stock dipped 5.5%, while auto parts supplier Hella's shares were down 5% as the sector came under pressure.
Meanwhile, Italy's Banco Bpm saw shares slide by 7.48% after the lender reported on Wednesday that its total revenue fell 8.9% in the first quarter.
Britain's BT Group reported full year results this morning, with revenues of £23.4 billion down 1% and profits before taxes rising by 2% to £2.67 billion. The company's shares traded 3.88% lower during the afternoon session.
Elsewhere, German broadcaster ProSieben surged to the top of the European benchmark. Shares gained 4.35% after the company set a June launch date for its streaming service, "Joyn."
Italian aerospace group Leonardo also saw gains on Thursday, its stock rising 2.71% after the firm reported a strong start to 2019, with double-digit growth in new orders and revenue.
In corporate news, a deal for British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to buy Pfizer's consumer health care business received approval from the Australian anti-trust regulator, while Standard Chartered became the latest British firm to face shareholder criticism of executive pension provisions.
A survey Thursday revealed demand for staff within businesses in the U.K. rose at its slowest rate since 2012 in April.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May offered to meet leaders of an influential group of pro-Brexit Conservative Party lawmakers next week to address growing calls for her resignation. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Thursday that May must move her Brexit "red lines" if there was to be any breakthrough on an agreement in Parliament.