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European markets finished lower on Thursday, as the political showdown surrounding Spain's Catalonia heightened while earnings season provided a mixed bag of reports.

The pan-European STOXX 600 declined over 0.6 percent, with all but four sectors in the red.

Madrid's IBEX dropped 0.74 percent on the day. The Spanish central government said that it would move to suspend Catalonia's autonomy after regional leader Carles Puigdemont failed to leave a bid for independence or provide clarity on the matter.

Bank stocks retreated 0.7 percent as Spanish lenders were under pressure, while Spanish government bond yields increased.

The STOXX 600's worst performing stock was London-listed IWG, after the group issued a trading update which said that group operating profit for 2017 is currently expected to be "materially below market expectations." IWG shares plunged more than 32 percent.

London Stock Exchange Group shares dropped into negative territory after it announced that CEO Xavier Rolet would be leaving the group by the end of next year.

Advertising group Publicis dropped over six percent after the firm's third-quarter sales fell short of market forecasts.

German forklift truck and robotics maker Kion tumbled 9.2 percent after it trimmed its 2017 guidance.

Consumer goods company Unilever posted a slowdown in third-quarter revenue, placing blame on natural disasters, and poor weather in Europe for weakened growth. Shares of the company declined over 5.5 percent, dropping to the bottom of the household goods sector.

Related news

Oil prices rallied on Thursday to pare some of the prior session's losses, propped up by declining exports by OPEC-member Venezuela.

Brent crude futures traded up 33 cents or 0.4 percent, to $75.69 per barrel. Meanwhile, U.S. WTI crude rose 33 cents or 0.6 percent at $65.11 per barrel. It finished the prior session 1.2 percent lower at $64.73 per barrel.

Venezuela, a member of the OPEC,is lagging in shipping crude to clients from its main oil export port for almost a month, according to Reuters data, as chronic postponements threaten to breach state-run PDVSA's crude supply contracts if they are not quickly delivered.

Tankers waiting to load over 24 million barrels of crude,almost as much as PDVSA sippined in April, are waiting in the country's main oil port. Reuters data showed that the backlog is so serious, PDVSA advised some customers it may announce force majeure, allowing it to temporarily stop contracts if they do not take on new delivery terms.

Venezuela's supply troubles come amid voluntary production cuts by OPEC which have been implemented since 2017 in order to rebalance the market and drive up prices. The cartel is slated to meet at its headquarters in Vienna, along with top producer but non-OPEC member Russia, on June 22 to talk about production policy.

Iran, a member of OPEC, said on Wednesday that a production boost was not up for consideration as the market was steady and prices were good.

The euro remained near two-week highs versus majority of its rivals on Thursday, on increasing bets the European Central Bank may announce it will taper its stimulus program by year-end as early as next week at the end of its policy meeting.

The central bank's chief economist Peter Praet, a close ally of President Mario Draghi, said the ECB would debate next week whether to stop bond purchases later this year.

Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany's central bank, said bets that the ECB would taper its bond-purchasing program by the end of this year was likely while his Dutch counterpart Klaas Knot said there was no reason to extend a quantitative easing program.

The hawkish comments boosted the euro, hitting a two-week high of $1.17955 on Wednesday. The common currency last traded at $1.1781, adding to weekly gains amounting to 1 percent.

The ECB has been weighing whether to finish the 2.55 trillion euro bond purchase program this year as the risk of deflation has passed.

The euro firmed against other currencies, reaching a two-week high of 1.640 Swiss franc and 129.83 yen.

Meanwhile, the dollar continued its recovery from a five-week trough of 108.`115 yen hit on May 29 and last traded at 110.15 yen, having reached a two-week high of 110.27 in late U.S. trade on Wednesday.

But persistent concerns regarding trade disputes could limit the dollar's strength versus the yen as U.S. President Donald Trump looks determined to clash with other Group of Seven leaders at their weekend summit.

The Australian dollar reached a one-and-a-half month high of 76.777 cents on Wednesday and last traded at 76.68 cents, partially propped-up by the nation's solid economic growth data released on Wednesday.

2018.06.07 02:04:00 UTC+00

Gold Edges Up on Weaker U.S. Dollar

Gold prices rose on Thursday, propped up by a weaker dollar amid ongoing worries regarding a trade war between the U.S. and its allies.

Spot gold traded 0.1 percent higher at $1,296.91 per ounce. U.S. gold futures for August delivery were almost unchanged at $1,301.30 per ounce.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, declining 0.2 percent to 93.497.

The Trump administration is not retreating from the tough stance it has taken on trade, according to Larry Kudlow, the White House' top economic adviser said on Wednesday, setting a stage for a dispute with America's top allies at this week's G7 summit in Canada.

The euro remained near two-week highs against majority of its competitors on Thursday, on increasing bets the European Central Bank may announce it will unwind its stimulus programme by year-end as early as next week.

The ECB will discuss next week whether to exit bond purchases later this year, the bank's top chief economist said on Wednesday, a hawkish message seen girding investors for another reduction in stimulus.

Holdings of SPDR Gold trust declined 0.42 percent to 832.59 tonnes on Wednesday.

India's gold imports fell a fifth consecutive month n May to 48 tonnes as a rally in local prices to near their highest level in 21 months reduced retail purchases, initial data from GFMS and bank dealers showed.