European stocks were mixed on Thursday after a more upbeat European Central Bank helped to boost markets in the afternoon, but this was not enough to lift all benchmarks out of the red.

Thursday's confident tone that emerged from the ECB helped to boost all stocks, but particularly those in southern and central Europe, many of which had been in the red beforehand.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.27% lower, at 7,314, in London while the CAC 40 also slipped 0.30% in Paris, to settle at 4,958.

The DAX in Frankfurt eked out a fractional gain, rising 0.06%, to close at 11,978. This is while the IBEX gained 1.5% in Madrid, closing at 9,998, and the FTSE MIB added 0.46% to close at 19,571 in Milan.

Mario Draghi upped growth and inflation forecasts for the euro area and sounded a hawkish tone on the subject of future monetary policy when he said the next likely move in eurozone rates will be higher.

Adding to this, the ECB chief said there were no discussions about a new "targeted long-term refinancing operation," after the current program ends on March 23.

The TLTRO enables banks to trade in expensive debts for cheaper funding and has been particularly helpful for peripheral banks who have struggled with higher funding costs. But take-up has been limited among larger institutions in western Europe.

In individual stocks, London's turning-around supermarket chain Morrison (MRWSY) reported a solid set of full-year earnings, with its first IFRS profit in five years on Thursday. But management warned that food import costs will continue to rise in the year ahead.

The devaluation of sterling has boosted input costs for retailers and created a "negative jaws"-like effect in grocery industry, given that consumer prices are still being forced lower by fierce competition.

WM Morrison shares were down more than 6% by the close, making them the biggest faller on the FTSE 100.

In Paris, retailer CarreFour (CRRFY) fell sharply, to the bottom of the CAC 40, after it reported a fall in full-year operating profits due to tough trading conditions in its home market of France and key growth market, China.

Oil and gas engineer Technip (TKPPY) came in for a second day of steep declines when it fell by more than 2%, as the correction in oil prices continued.

BMW (BMWYY) stock led the DAX index lower in Frankfurt on Thursday after it missed expectations for full-year revenues and earnings.

The German car firm reported a record year for sales volumes and revenues when it released its full-year preview Thursday, but its top line of €94.1 billion ($97.8 billion) was 1% below consensus, following a contraction in car sales and higher eliminations.

Earnings before interest and taxes, or operating profit, missed by 5% when it was reported at €9.3 billion. The stock fell more than 3% to the bottom of the DAX in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

Volkswagen (VLKAY) was also a big faller in Germany, partly as a result of generally negative sentiment toward the sector, but price action also follows several days of increasingly harsh rhetoric toward the company from Brussels politicians who want to see fines imposed against it for cheating emissions tests on the continent.