Two leading pan-European equity indexes fell to 2013 closing lows on Thursday, led by weakness in drugmaker Sanofi after its results, and amid persistent concern over the region's economic weakness.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed down 0.3 percent at 1,149.29 points, after choppy trade on Thursday. At one stage the pan-European index was up by as much as 0.5 percent at 1,158.26 points.
The Euro STOXX 50 index closed down 0.7 percent at 2,599.16 points.
European Central Bank (ECB) Head Mario Draghi said economic weakness would continue to afflict the region, which has been hit by a debt crisis, in the early part of 2013.
However, several traders expected the equity market's decline to be a relatively short-lived, with funds still looking to put money into higher-yielding stocks rather than bonds.
"The risk is still to the upside. People have had their fingers burnt trying to sell the market on the back of bad economic news," said XBZ Ltd European equity options broker Mike Turner.
Both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England announced they would keep interest rates on hold on Thursday.