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Europe stocks close lower as Draghi disappoints; Micro Focus sinks 15%

Arjun Kharpal
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

European stocks closed lower on Thursday after the European Central Bank (ECB) kept interest rates on hold and did not extend its asset purchase program.

The pan-European STOXX 600 (^STOXX) closed down around 0.3 percent, with the German DAX paring losses to finish 0.7 percent lower. Earlier in the day, it had sunk to around 1.5 percent.

The ECB kept its benchmark refinancing rate at 0 percent and also did not change its trillion-euro bond-buying plan, saying the program will run until the end of March 2017 or beyond if necessary.

Investors had expected the central bank to extend quantitative easing . In a media conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank did not discuss an extension of its asset purchase plan. "Our program is effective and we should focus on its implementation," he said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finished up nearly 0.2 percent, buoyed up by news that Micro Focus (London Stock Exchange: MCRO-GB) will merge with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) spun-off non-core software assets. Shares of Micro Focus closed up nearly 15 percent.

U.S. markets also traded lower in midday trading following Draghi's comments.The Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell furthest, down around 0.3 percent. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were down around 0.1 and 0.2 percent respectively.

Apple (AAPL) shares plunged the day after the tech giant launched the iPhone 7 , wireless headphones and a new watch on Wednesday in a bid to turn around the company's first drop in sales. Shares of the firm were down around 2 percent in midday trading.

The technology sector in Europe also closed lower, with European suppliers to Apple hit. Austria Microsystems (Swiss Exchange: AMS-CH) and Dialog Semiconductor (XETRA:DLG-DE) - both suppliers to Apple - finished in the red. Shares in ASML (Euronext Amsterdam: ASML-NL), meanwhile, slid down 3.7 percent after Samsung Electronics said it was selling about 6.3 million shares in the company.

Dixons Carphone (London Stock Exchange: DC.-GB) finished near the top of the STOXX 600 after it reported a 4 percent rise in like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks ended July 30. Shares in the company rose nearly 4 percent.

Pearson (London Stock Exchange: PSON-GB) finished at the bottom of the index, with its shares down around 7.5 percent after its U.S. peer, John Wiley & Sons, reported a fall in earnings and revenue in its fiscal first quarter.

Elsewhere, Air France-KLM (Euronext Paris: AF-FR) shares closed higher after it said August traffic rose 1.9 percent.

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