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European Stocks End Mostly Higher

European markets ended mostly higher on Wednesday, with investors reacting positively to Eurozone and Chinese economic data.

However, gains were just modest in most of the markets, amid mixed earnings reports from the U.S. PepsiCo and Morgan Stanley reported numbers that beat market expectations, while Netflix and IBM provided disappointing guidance, despite posting better than expected earnings in the first quarter.

Investors were also looking for news on Brexit and trade talks front.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up by 0.1%. Among the major markets in Europe, the U.K. ended just marginally up. Germany and France closed on a firm note, with their benchmarks DAX and CAC 40 rising 0.43% and 0.62%, respectively. Switzerland's SMI ended up 0.17%.

Among other markets, Austria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine closed higher, while Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece and Portugal declined.

Swiss stock ABB gained more than 5%. The company, which is in the midst of a revamp following problems with its internal financial controls, announced the resignation of its CEO Ulrich Spesshofer.

In Germany, Commerzbank shares gained nearly 2% on reports ING had approached the company with a takeover proposal.

Wirecard, ThyssenKrupp and Volkswagen gained 3 to 4%. Daimler, BMW, Infineon, Continental, BASF, Siemens, Allianz and HeidelbergCement also closed with solid gains.

In France, ArcelorMittal, Valeo and Essilor rose 3 to 4.2%. Renault, Publicis Groupe, Accor, STMicroElectronics, BNP Paribas, Atos, Peugeot, Louis Vuitton and Societe Generale gained 1 to 2%.

Among British stocks, Mediclinic International soared nearly 8%. TUI, ITV, Paddy Power, Aviva, Glencore, Ashtead Group, Pearson, IAG, Prudential, Johnson Matthey and Antofagast also closed on a strong note.

Resources stocks Rio Tinto and BHP Group tumbled more than 2.5%.

Bunzi plunged more than 9% after the company warned of slowing growth, particularly in its biggest market North America.

In economic news, Eurozone trade surplus increased in February to its highest level in nearly a year, figures from Eurostat showed on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose to EUR 19.5 billion from EUR 17.4 billion in January. The surplus was the biggest since March 2018, when it was EUR 20.4 billion.

Exports decreased 1.4% month-on-month and imports fell 2.7%.

The non-seasonally adjusted trade surplus increased to EUR 17.9 billion from EUR 16.5 billion a year ago.

Another data from Eurostat said Eurozone headline inflation slowed in March and core price growth eased to its lowest level in a year, as initially estimated.

Headline inflation slowed to 1.4% from 1.5% in February. In January, price growth was 1.4%.

Compared to the previous month, the CPI rose 1%. Core inflation, which excludes prices of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, eased to 0.8% in March from 1% in February.

Elsewhere, data from the European Central Bank showed that euro area current account surplus decreased to EUR 27 billion in February from EUR 37 billion in January, and EUR 32 billion in the same month last year.

Preliminary data from the Office for National Statistics showed UK consumer price inflation was unchanged in March, defying expectations for a modest acceleration.

The consumer price index rose 1.9% year-on-year, same as in February. Economists had expected inflation of 2%.

The core inflation rate was also unchanged in March, at 1.8%, lower than a 1.9% growth forecast.

In news from China, GDP grew an annual 6.4% in the first quarter of 2019, unchanged from the fourth quarter and beating forecasts for 6.3%.

Retail sales climbed 8.7% year-on-year in March - beating expectations for an increase of 8.4% and up from 8.2%.

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