European shares close lower as oil climbs

European equities closed sharply lower on Thursday, extending the previous day’s retreat, with geopolitics once again worrying markets.

Oil prices surged as much as 5 percent, while stocks fell, on the news that Saudi Arabia had launched a military operation in neighboring Yemen, where rebels have overthrow the government.

“A cacophony of bearish news in the form of weak U.S. data, ‘Grexit’ jitters and an escalation of fighting in Yemen all conspired to bring markets down yesterday and there is no let-up in the bearish sentiment this morning,” Marius Paun and Jonathan Sudaria of Capital Spreads said in a research note on Thursday.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index (^STOXX) ended around 0.9 percent lower. The FTSE 100 (FTSE International: .FTSE) closed down provisionally 1.4 percent, while the German DAX (^GDAXI) was down 0.2 percent and the French CAC (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) down 0.3 percent.

Travel stocks underperformed on Thursday, because of rising oil prices.

Lufthansa (XETRA:LHA-DE) shares fell by as much as 4 percent, with the stock under additional stress as the crash of the Germanwings A320 plane remains in the spotlight.

Read More Co-pilot of jet deliberately crashed: French prosecutor

EasyJet (London Stock Exchange: EZJ-GB) shares slumped as much as 5 percent and IAG (London Stock Exchange: IAG-GB) shares also dropped 5 percent after a report in the Financial Times said that Etihad Airways would be willing to sell its stake in Aer Lingus (Irish Stock Exchange: EIL1-IE) to the airline group.

LSE Group (London Stock Exchange: LSE-GB) shares tanked up to 8 percent after Bourse Dubai sold its stake in the company.

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