Stronger U.S. economic data and a rising prospect of tapering by the Federal Reserve sent shares lower on both sides of the Atlantic on Thursday, with European shares also hit by the European Central Bank's decision to leave its principal interest rate unchanged. As for the Fed, "trying to squeeze something [tapering] in before the end of the year would start a little bit of panic, the tail end of December being just an incredibly important retail period. It would be a little bit dangerous to do something this year," said Alastair McCaig, market analyst for IG in London.

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