European stocks closed lower on Thursday, losing recent positive momentum, after a key speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended the session down by around 0.6%, with almost all sectors and all major bourses dipping into negative territory.
Global investors monitored a pivotal speech stateside from the Fed's Powell, who outlined historic changes to the central bank's monetary policy strategy that would see it allow inflation to run hotter than normal to support the labor market and broader economy.
The Fed has long had a 2% inflation target but, in the decade since the last financial crisis, it has more often than not seen inflation fall below this level. Powell, during a virtual version of the Fed's annual Jackson Hole conference, said the bank had agreed to a policy of "average inflation targeting," meaning it will allow inflation to run "moderately" above its 2% goal "for some time" following periods when it has run below that target.
On Wall Street, stocks rose after the Fed unveiled its new policy framework. Practically speaking, the move means the Fed will be less inclined to hike interest rates when unemployment falls, as long as inflation doesn't creep up as well.
On the coronavirus front, biotech firm Moderna announced Wednesday that its potential vaccine generated a promising immune response in elderly patients during an early stage clinical trial.
Oil markets are also in focus Thursday, after oil rigs and refineries were shut ahead of a massive hurricane expected to cross Texas and Louisiana.
Looking at individual stocks, shares of advertising giant WPP were up over 4% after the company posted a lower-than-expected fall in underlying net sales and resumed its dividend. And French conglomerate Bouygues climbed over 1% after reporting a lower-than-expected operating loss in its first-half results.
Meanwhile, shares of engines maker Rolls Royce fell about 1% after it posted a £3.2 billion ($4.2 billion) pretax loss for the first half of the year, said it planned asset sales and announced the departure of its CFO.
- CNBC.com staff contributed to this market report.