European stocks close lower

European stock markets ended Thursday lower as investors digested comments from U.S. President Donald Trump and focused on minutes from key central banks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.67 percent lower with almost all sectors and major bourses in negative territory.

Travel and leisure stocks were among the worst performing on Thursday, down by 1.42 percent after weaker-than-expected sales results. The French facilities management group Sodexo dropped almost 6 percent after cutting its full-year sales growth target for this year and closed at the bottom of the European benchmark.

Autos stocks made some gains after the European Commission cleared the takeover of Opel by the carmaker Peugeot. The latter rose over 2.8 percent. The French firm Renault also saw its shares rise, up by 1.5 percent, after it announced plans to increase its presence in the Chinese market.

Elsewhere, AB Foods ended close to the top of the European benchmark, up by over 2.5 percent. The firm said its full-year outlook had improved, mainly driven by sales at Primark.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Wall Street continued in negative territory after data showed lower-than-expected hiring in the private sector. The ADP national employment report saw private employers add 158,000 jobs last month, below the forecast of 185,000.

Central banks, Trump

Minutes from U.S. Federal Reserve showed late Wednesday that policymakers are divided on the pace of interest rate hikes and several members showed concern on the impact on markets. On Thursday, the European Central Bank released the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting. Officials warned of the dangers of triggering market moves that could negatively influence inflation.

Speaking in Poland, U.S. President Donald Trump said something would have to be done about North Korea’s ‘very, very bad behavior’, before adding that he believed Russia had interfered in the U.S. election.

In the Middle East, four Arab countries decided not to step up sanctions against Qatar but said the latter’s reply had been “negative” and kept the current boycott on the Gulf nation.

In commodity markets, oil prices were recovering after a dramatic sell-off late in the U.S. session. Brent was up by 2.32 percent at $48.88 per barrel shortly after the European close while WTI rose 2.46 percent being sold at $46.25.

Source: CNBC