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European Markets Close On Firm Note As Upbeat Earnings Lift Sentiment

European stocks closed higher on Wednesday, rebounding after two successive days of losses, as some upbeat earnings updates from top name companies in the region lifted sentiment.

Strong results from a few leading companies in the U.S., and a bit of bargain hunting contributed as well to the uptick in the European markets.

Besides tracking updates on the coronavirus front, investors also looked ahead to the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting later in the day for clues on stimulus tapering.

The pan European Stoxx 600 rose 0.66%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 0.29%, Germany's DAX gained 0.33% and France's CAC 40 surged up 1.18%, while Switzerland's SMI gained 0.43%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey closed higher, while Finland and Norway ended weak.

In the UK market, Fresnillo surged up nearly 7%. St. James Place gained 5.6%, while IAG, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Scottish Mortgage, Smith & Nephew, Melrose Industries, Just Eat Takeaway, Intertek, ICP and Spirax-Sarco Engineering gained 2 to 4%.

Barclays Group shares gained about 2% as interim net profits surged more than five-fold on lower-than-expected credit losses linked to the COVID pandemic.

Rio Tinto gained 1.2% after reporting a record first-half profit.

Reckitt Benckiser shed about 3.2%, extending losses from the previous session. HSBC Holdings ended 1.6% down, while ITV, Ashtead Group, Vodafone Group and Entain ended lower by 1 to 1.3%. British American Tobacco ended weak despite reporting better-than-expected revenue for the first half of the year.

In the German market, MTU Aero Engines climbed 2.7%. SAP, Fresenius, Deutsche Wohnen, Thyssenkrupp, Infineon Technologies, Fresenius Medical Care, Deutsche Post and RWE gained 1 to 2%.

Covestro shed about 1.7%. Deutsche Bank ended lower by about 1% despite posting better-than-expected second-quarter profits and raising its revenue outlook for next year.

In France, Renault rallied more than 4.5%. Capgemini gained about 4% after posting a 12.9% increase in second quarter revenues. Kering gained nearly 4% after reporting a 95% jump in second quarter sales.

Unibail Rodamco, LVMH, Safran, Airbus Group and STMicroElectronics gained 2 to 4%. Veolia, Thales, WorldLine, Engie and Air France-KLM also ended notably higher.

Sodex and Atos both ended nearly 3% down. Vivendi, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole also closed weak, albeit with less pronounced losses.

In economic releases, Germany's consumer confidence is set to remain unchanged in August as the weakness in economic and income expectations were offset by the improvement in the propensity to buy, survey results from the market research group GfK showed.

The forward-looking consumer sentiment held steady at -0.3 in August while economists had forecast the index to improve to +1.0. The survey was conducted between July 1 and 12.

Germany's import prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly four decades in June, preliminary data from Destatis showed. The import price index climbed 12.9% year-on-year following an 11.8% increase in May. Economists had forecast a 12.6% rise.

A measure of French consumer confidence index fell to 101 from a revised 103 in June. Economists had expected the reading to remain steady at June's initial score of 102.

Elsewhere, U.K. house prices grew 10.5% year-on-year in July, slower than the 13.4% increase posted in June, data published by Nationwide Building Society revealed. This was also weaker than the economists' forecast of 12.1%.

UK shop prices continued to decline in July, largely driven by a steep fall in non-food prices, the British Retail Consortium, said on Wednesday. The shop price index dropped 1.2% on a yearly basis in July, after easing 0.7% in June.

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