Europe Shares Close Higher Despite US Data

European shares pared gains but closed higher on Thursday, after a round of soft U.S. data. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed provisionally up 0.3 percent at 1,227.16 points, after a 1.8 percent fall-off in the previous session.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly climbed by 10,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. And the U.S. economy grew by an annualized rate of 2.4 percent in the first quarter, according to revised numbers from the Commerce Department, falling slightly short of estimates.

(Read More: Sequester Drags on GDP; No Help From Job Market)

Concerns also remain that the U.S. Federal Reserve may decide to start tapering off its asset purchasing program.

"We do not believe key members of the FOMC have already made up their minds on what the next change in Federal Reserve policy should be," said Nomura analysts in a research note.

"Any decision to change the pace of asset purchases will depend on how economic data and financial markets evolve."

(Read More: Investors Shouldn't Fear Rising Bond Yields Yet)

However, European stocks were boosted on Thursday by European Commission data for the euro zone that showed economic sentiment rising by more-than-expected in May.

In other news, President Francois Hollande's insistence that the EU cannot "dictate" reforms to France has outraged Angela Merkel's conservatives, hours before the leaders were due to meet. German Chancellor Merkel will meet with Hollande in Paris to discuss proposals to strengthen the management of the euro zone, and boost industry.

(Read More: Hollande Reform Defiance Sparks German Anger)

In Switzerland, officials have taken decisive steps to resolve a dispute with the U.S. over tax evasion plans, announcing that the country's banks could be allowed to make individual settlements with the U.S.

(Read More: Switzerland Still Favorite Banking Hub: Julius Baer)


E.ON Buys Stake in MPX Energia

German energy firm E.ON completed its acquisition of another stake in Brazilian power company MPX Energia on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s Competition Commission said it may force Ryanair to sell its stake in Aer Lingus, after an investigation found the Irish budget airline was influencing Aer Lingus' strategy.

A recovery in gold prices helped miners lead gains on the Stoxx 600 on Thursday, with Fresnillo and Randgold Resources shares posting gains of around 6 percent.