LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Stocks in Europe ended lower Thursday, as worries about U.S. economic growth overwhelmed the benefit from the dovish stance taken by the European Central Bank and the surprising profit reported by UBS.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index, after early gains, ended the session with a 1.4% loss to 254.24.
Miners including Vedanta Resources and steel producers such as ArcelorMittal paced the downturn.
Vedanta shares lost nearly 12% and ArcelorMittal shed 9.3%.
Agrichemical firms like K+S , which fell 12.1%, also absorbed sharp losses.
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling shed 19% in Athens after a fresh profit warning from the European soda bottler.
The declines came as U.S. jobless claims neared 500,000 and as factory orders had their steepest fall in two years.
That offset a more dovish stance from the European Central Bank. The ECB kept rates on hold at 4.25% but President Jean-Claude Trichet's comments after the meeting were more dovish than before. He said a rate cut was discussed at the meeting. See full story.
"Trichet said that the ECB had considered keeping rates on hold or cutting rates and that in itself is a change in the ECB's thinking," said Philip Shaw at Investec Securities.
But that wasn't enough to help sentiment in Europe.
"There are several forces hitting stocks at the moment and a better interest rate outlook from the euro zone is not predominating," said Shaw.
On a national level, the U.K. FTSE 100 index dropped 1.8% to 4,870.34, the French CAC-40 index dropped 2.3% to 3,963.28 and the German DAX 30 index traded down 2.5% to 5,660.63.
The losses came despite a generally upbeat performance from the banking sector.
Swiss banking giant UBS rose 8.1% after it said that it expects to report a small profit in the third quarter. See full story.
"We regard this as marking a turning point for UBS, in terms of market perception and also in terms of client perception," said Matt Spick at Deutsche Bank while upgrading the firm to hold from buy.
Fortis shares surged 11.8% as investors continued to mull moves made by several European governments to bail out the lender earlier this week.
"The decisions taken by public authorities and Fortis management have, in our view, addressed investor's key concerns," said analysts at Keefe Bruyette & Woods.
Also, the U.S. Senate late Wednesday approved a revised $700 billion U.S. plan to stabilize the financial industry. A vote in the House vote is expected on Friday. See story.
Commerzbank climbed 10.2% in Frankfurt and HBOS , after enduring recent losses on speculation a deal with Lloyds TSB may be adjusted or fall through, climbed nearly 15% in London.
Shares in U.K. department store and food retailer Marks & Spencer jumped 8.1%, taking back some losses made over the last year.
The firm reported that sales in the 13 weeks to Sept. 27 rose 0.4%.