UK and European markets closed sharply lower on Thursday (10 March), after comments from the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi poured cold water on the optimism sparked by the bank's decision to expand its stimulus programme.

London's FTSE 100 closed down 1.08% to 6,080.22 and was followed into the red by its European peers. Germany's Dax and France's CAC 40 fell 1.48% and 0.58% respectively, while the Pan European Stoxx 600 lost 0.93%.

ECB delivers, Draghi's comments disappoint

In a press conference that followed the announcement of the new quantitative easing programme, the ECB President admitted he saw no reason for future rate cuts, which sparked a drastic turnaround in equity markets, as the main benchmarks on the continent nosedived.

"Given Draghi's comments and the heightened concern of the impact of negative interest rates on banks' margins and profitability it does seem more likely than not that Eurozone interest rates really have now reached their low," said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight.

Earlier, the ECB cut its key lending rate to zero from 0.05% and pushed the rate on its deposit facility to minus 0.4% from minus 0.3%, adding that from April it will expand the size of its monthly bond purchases to €80bn (£61.8bn, $86.9) from its current level of €60bn.

Aviva posts positive surprise

Aviva was among the standout performers on the FTSE 100 after after the insurance company posted a better than expected annual profit for 2015 and lifted its total dividend.

At the other end of the scale, Ashtead was in the red, taking its weekly losses to over 10%, after analysts at Deutsche Bank initiated coverage on the stock with a 'sell' rating. Morrisons, meanwhile, was firmly on the back foot after its pre-tax profit dropped by more than a quarter in the full year to 31 January to its lowest point since 2007.

Commodity-related stocks were under the cosh on both of London's main benchmarks, with Anglo American and Antofagasta both among the worst performers on the FTSE 100, while Tullow Oil featured among the biggest fallers on the FTSE 250.

That came as oil prices reversed the previous session's gains and edged sharply lower, with both benchmarks falling around 2%. West Texas Intermediate lost 1.86% to $37.59 a barrel, while Brent crude declined 2.37% to $40.12 a barrel.

FTSE 100 - Top 5 risers

Aviva +1.74%
Intu Properties +1.49%
Randgold Resources Ltd. +1.27%
Shire Plc +1.26%
London Stock Exchange Group +0.95%

FTSE 100 - Top 5 fallers

Direct Line Insurance Group -9.07%
Ashtead Group -7.68%
Anglo American -5.02%
BHP Billiton (Ex dividend) -4.90%
Antofagasta -4.58%

FTSE 250 - Top 5 risers

Savills +5.33%
DFS Furniture +3.96%
Allied Minds +3.61%
Entertainment One Limited +3.31%
Amec Foster Wheeler +2.73%

FTSE 250 - Top 5 fallers

OneSavings Bank -6.55%
Hiscox Limited -6.20%
Tullow Oil -5.16%
B&M European Value Retail S.A.-4.90%
Countrywide -4.86%