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European markets close lower after Draghi's mixed message on stimulus

Key Points
  • The ECB prepared markets for more easing measures on Thursday.
  • However, ECB President Mario Draghi gave a more mixed message than an earlier statement from the bank.
  • Draghi also told reporters Thursday that the risk of a recession in the region was low.

European stocks fluctuated Thursday afternoon but ended lower after the European Central Bank ECB kept interest rates on hold but signaled that more monetary easing could be on the horizon.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 clkosed provisionally down by 0.5% during trade, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

The ECB prepared markets for more easing measures on Thursday, causing the euro to briefly fall to a two-year low against the dollar, also sending shares higher. However, ECB President Mario Draghi gave a more mixed message in a subsequent press conference, suggesting that some members of the central bank weren't convinced on certain aspects of a possible stimulus package.

He told CNBC's Annette Weisbach that all ECB members agreed that further stimulus was needed, but there were differences regarding the various elements of any program. "We had a broad discussion," he said, "Whenever we have a package so complex as this, you'd expect that people have different nuances about the different parts of the package."

Draghi also told reporters Thursday that the risk of a recession in the region was low.

Cobham shares jump 35%

Looking at individual stocks, Britain's Cobham surged to the top of the European benchmark Thursday morning, after U.S. private equity firm Advent International agreed to buy the company for $5 billion. Shares of the London-listed stock jumped more than 34% on the news.

Market participants were also focused on corporate earnings on Thursday, with a flurry of companies publishing their second quarter results. Unilever shares were down more than 1% after the company reported weaker than expected sales growth.

Elsewhere, shares of AstraZeneca reached an all-time high on Thursday after the company lifted its guidance off the back of its quarterly earnings. Shares of the pharmaceuticals giant were up nearly 6% during afternoon trade, lifting the FTSE index.

Meanwhile, Sage tumbled to the bottom of the index, falling more than 11% after software related services revenue dropped 15.5% for the first nine months of the year.