Markets

European Markets Close Down 1.8% With Ukraine, ECB in Focus

Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images News | Getty Images
  • The European Central Bank on Thursday opted to keep interest rates steady, remaining cautious as it assesses the economic fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • But it announced that it will wind down asset purchases faster than planned, before adding that it stands ready to revisit this decision if the outlook changes.

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Thursday amid a volatile week, as investors monitored the war in Ukraine and fluctuations in commodity prices.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 1.8% by the close, with autos shedding 4.8% to lead losses as almost all sectors and major bourses slid into the red.

The European Central Bank on Thursday opted to keep interest rates steady, remaining cautious as it assesses the economic fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But it announced that it will wind down asset purchases faster than planned, before adding that it stands ready to revisit this decision if the outlook changes.

On Wall Street, stocks fell Thursday as talks between Ukraine and Russia showed little progress on key issues and commodity prices again moved higher.

Markets have been closely attuned to developments in Ukraine as Russia's invasion continues. Ukraine accused Russian aircraft late on Wednesday of bombing a children's hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol despite a cease-fire deal to allow evacuations.

On the corporate front, Hugo Boss reported earnings before the bell on Thursday, while Credit Suisse released its annual report and Deutsche Bank presented its Investor Deep Dive.

At the top of the Stoxx 600, German chemicals company K+S jumped more than 10% after reporting a surge in fourth-quarter profit and exceeding dividend and free cash flow projections.

At the bottom of the European blue chip index, British housebuilder Persimmon slid 9%.

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