European Shares End Choppy Session Slightly Down

European equities ended slightly down on Thursday following a roller-coaster session marked by brisk volume, with rekindled worries about Greece keeping investors on edge.


The FTSEurofirst300 index of top European shares unofficially closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,098.34 points, unable to bounce back from Wednesday's sell-off.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said next week may still be too early to make a decision on granting further aid to Greece, reviving fears about the debt-stricken country.

U.K. stocks pared gains on Thursday after the BoE kept its key rate at a record low of 0.5 percent and kept the size of its asset purchase plan unchanged at 375 billion pounds. Similarly, the ECB kept its benchmark rate at 0.75 percent.

Meanwhile, Spain successfully sold 4.8 billion euros of bonds at an auction on Thursday morning, higher than the 4.5 billion euros it had targeted. By doing so, Spain has exceeded its stated funding target for the year, having raised more than 86 billion euros to date. That raised the odds Spain will not seek a bailout this year, a worry for the market, which fears a delay in asking for aid will worsen the euro zone debt crisis.

Spanish bond yields also rose after the auction as the bond market tried to digest the additional supply, according to Reuters.

Leading fallers across the region was Germany's second-biggest lender, Commerzbank , down 5.8 percent after it missed third-quarter profit forecasts and said it was unlikely to pay a dividend this year or next.

However, French peer Société Générale featured among the biggest gainers of the session, adding 1.6 percent, after posting a rebound in trading revenue in the third quarter in its corporate and investment bank (CIB), after a large-scale restructuring.

"CIB has really delivered. They are really delivering after the restructuring plan so we see that the rebound is there," Chief Executive Frederic Oudea told CNBC.

Siemens was another strong gainers among Europe's biggest companies after it announced plans to save 6 billion euros by 2014, more than expected.

Shares in Dutch insurer Aegon and cement maker Heidelberg Cement also rose after both reported forecast-beating third-quarter earnings.

"We're in consolidation mode, and the good news is that most of the gains made since the summer, especially in the banking sector, are holding on despite the absence of positive newsflow," Francois Chevallier, strategist at Banque Leonardo, in Paris.

"The absence of a big wave of profit taking shows that people are starting to think that the systemic crises are over. The U.S. housing market is recovering and Europe is now dealing with its debt problems."