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European Shares Edge Higher On Stimulus Hopes

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European stocks rose Wednesday on the back of a slew of positive earnings releases and new U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's pledge to "act big" on stimulus to reinvigorate the world's largest economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden will be sworn-in as the 46th President of the U.S later today after a long stint in politics spanning over four decades.

He has already outlined a $1.9 trillion economic relief package last week to jump-start the economy.

The pan European Stoxx 600 rose half a percent to 409.92 after closing 0.2 percent higher on Tuesday. The German DAX gained half a percent and France's CAC 40 index edged up 0.4 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was little changed in choppy trade.

Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML Holding gained 2.4 percent. The company reported that its fourth-quarter net income rose to 1.35 billion euros from 1.13 billion euros in the same quarter last year.

Similarly, Swiss luxury goods group Compagnie Financiere Richemont rallied 2.8 percent after revenue rose in its third quarter.

Nicox SA shares rose 1.3 percent. The ophthalmology company reported net revenue for the full year 2020 of 8.9 million euros compared to 6.9 million euros, prior year.

Bilfinger fell about 1 percent. The civil engineering company announced that CEO Tom Blades has decided not to extend his contract beyond June 30, 2021 for personal reasons and against the background of his reaching the age of 65.

Chemical company BASF Group climbed 1.6 percent. The company reported that its preliminary sales for the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 8 percent to 15.91 billion euros from last year's 14.69 billion euros, driven by higher volumes and prices.

Mining giant BHP advanced 0.7 percent after lifting its iron ore production forecast.

Hochschild Mining surged 6 percent. The company reported that its overall 2020 attributable production was 289,293 gold equivalent ounces or 24.9 million silver equivalent ounces, at the high end of the company's revised forecasts.

IWG, an operator of workspace brands, fell 2.2 percent. The company said its Group revenue for the year 2020 is anticipated to be approximately 2.45 billion pounds.

Iberia parent IAG advanced 1.5 percent after it struck an amended agreement with Globalia to acquire Air Europa for €500 million ($606 million).

In economic releases, U.K. consumer price inflation doubled in December on higher transport and recreation costs, data released by the Office for National Statistics showed.

Inflation accelerated to 0.6 percent from 0.3 percent in November. The rate was above economists' forecast of 0.5 percent. Month-on-month, consumer prices advanced 0.3 percent, reversing a 0.1 percent drop in November and faster than the expected rate of 0.2 percent.

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