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European Markets Recover From Early Weakness

Markets in Europe got off to a weak start Wednesday, following the announcement that White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn has resigned. The resignation by Cohn, a free trade advocate, comes after President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

However, the markets began to recover around midday and climbed further in late trade. The open on Wall Street was not as weak as investors had initially feared and the U.S. markets quickly began to recover lost ground.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.36 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.61 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.23 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed 1.09 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.34 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.16 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.22 percent.

In Frankfurt, Deutsche Post rose 0.35 percent. The mail and logistics group reported lower net profit for the fourth quarter due to a higher tax rate.

In Paris, Alstom decreased 0.24 percent after acquiring railway Internet provider 21net.

In London, Smurfit Kappa rallied 5.52 percent. The company's board reaffirmed its rejection of a takeover offer from U.S. rival International Paper.

Rolls Royce Holdings jumped 11.46 percent after the plane engine maker reported 2017 profit before tax of 4.9 billion pounds, a material increase over the 2016 loss of 4.6 billion pounds.

WPP dropped 3.93 percent after reports that Procter & Gamble is accelerating its efforts to transform the business of marketing. Publicis Groupe also declined 1.89 percent in Paris.

Telecom Italia finished higher by 1.39 percent in Milan after recovering from earlier losses. The company said that its board authorized Chief Executive Officer Amos Genish to spin off its fixed access network.

The euro area economy expanded at a slightly slower pace, as initially estimated, in the fourth quarter, data from Eurostat showed Wednesday. Gross domestic product grew 0.6 percent sequentially, following the 0.7 percent expansion seen in the third quarter.

France's foreign trade gap widened notably at the start of the year, as exports fell and imports rose, Data from customs office showed Wednesday. The trade deficit widened to EUR 5.6 billion in January from EUR 3.4 billion in December. The expected shortfall was EUR 4.45 billion.

The French current account gap widened at the start of the year, data from the Bank of France showed Wednesday. The current account deficit rose to EUR 1.6 billion in January from EUR 0.8 billion in December.

UK house prices grew at the slowest pace in five years in February on squeezed income and uncertainty stemming from Brexit, data from the Lloyds bank subsidiary Halifax and IHS Markit showed Wednesday. House prices increased 1.8 percent year-on-year in the three months to February, slower than the 2.2 percent rise registered in January.

This was the weakest rate since March 2013. Nonetheless, the pace of growth was faster than the expected 1.6 percent.

A report released by payroll processor ADP on Wednesday showed private sector employment in the U.S. increased by more than expected in the month of February. ADP said employment in the private sector jumped by 235,000 jobs in February after surging up by a revised 244,000 jobs in January.

Economists had expected an increase of about 195,000 jobs compared to the addition of 234,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Reflecting a notable decrease in the value of exports, the Commerce Department released a report on Wednesday showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of January. The report said the trade deficit widened to $56.6 billion in January from $53.9 billion in December. The deficit had been expected to widen to $55.1 billion.

Revised data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday showed U.S. labor productivity was unchanged in the fourth quarter.

The Labor Department said labor productivity was unchanged in the fourth quarter compared to the previously reported 0.1 percent drop. Economists had expected the dip in productivity to be unrevised.

Meanwhile, the report said unit labor costs surged up by 2.5 percent compared to the previously reported 2.0 percent jump. The increase in labor costs was expected to be revised to 2.1 percent.

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