The European markets fell for the first time in six days on Thursday, weighed down by weakness in banking and mining stocks.
The Bank of England maintained its key interest rate at a historical low of 0.5% as expected, while the European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a new low of 1.00%.
The U.S. Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped to 601,000 for the week ended May 2. This was down 34,000 from the previous week's revised total of 635,000.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.84% lower at 851.37 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index fell 0.93% to 2,075.37 points.
Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index fell 0.32% to 4,382.31, while France's CAC 40 index slipped 0.97% to 3,251.52 and Germany's DAX index dropped 1.74% to 4,795.73.
Barclays, Britain's third largest bank, slipped 4.3% after the company said its impairment charges and other provisions may rise 50% this year, after jumping 79% to 2.3 billion pounds in the first quarter.
Lloyds Banking group, the country's largest mortgage provider, dropped 14.3% after the company warned that bad debts on corporate loans were rising significantly and reiterated that it expected a loss in 2009.
Societe Generale, France's third largest bank, slid 9.8% after the company reported a first quarter loss on writedowns linked to U.S. bond insurers and higher provisions for risky loans, compared to analysts' expectations of a profit.
Zurich Financial Services, Switzerland's biggest insurer, fell 3.9% after the company reported a 75% drop in first quarter profit.
Mining stocks edged lower after copper prices fell. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, slipped 1.3%, while Anglo American, the second biggest, dropped 1.4% and copper miner Antofagasta declined 1.2%.
On the other hand, AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, rose 2.3% after the company reported first quarter profit that beat analysts' estimate. Also, KKR & Co. agreed to pay $1.8 billion for the South Korean beer unit of AB InBev, which will use the money to pay down debt.
Consumer products giant Unilever climbed 9.3% after the company said first quarter sales growth excluding acquisitions and currency swings was 4.8%.
Commerzbank, Germany's second biggest lender, jumped 9% after the company won European Union approval for a second bailout by the German government and will sell its Eurohypo commercial property unit as part of the agreement.
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