European shares closed lower on Wednesday as investors reacted to a slew of earnings news and data released in the euro zone, China and the U.S.
Shares of U.K.-listed miners—with their heavy exposure to China—also fell on Wednesday, after factory activity figures for China disappointed.
HSBC's flash purchasing manager's index (PMI) for China came in at 48.3 in April, showing a contraction for a fourth straight month.
"We're very worried about the second-quarter GDP (gross domestic product). We think it's going to slow down," said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura. Antofagasta shares dropped 5.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Ericsson shares slipped 6.1 percent as the Swedish company's first-quarter earnings missed forecasts. Plus—, shares of ARM Holdings fell 2.9 percent, despite the chipmaker highlighting a pickup in demand.
Euro zone data beats
Data continued to show a recovery in euro zone business activity on Wednesday. Markit's flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for April rose to 54.0, up from 53.1 in March. A reading above 50 marks an expansion.
The data was driven by strong growth in Germany—the number for Germany rose to 56.3 in April, from 54.3 in March.
France saw slower growth in its private sector of 50.5, down from March's 51.8 reading. Its output was hit by new orders in manufacturing, which stagnated after rising in March.
In other stocks news, AB Foods rose to the top of pan-European benchmarks after reporting first-half earnings, with its retail unit Primark showing promising results. Shares closed around 8.8 percent higher.
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Travel agent Thomas Cook saw its shares finish the day higher by around 2.5 percent after an upgrade to "overweight" by Barclays.
Shares in Italian bank Monte dei Paschi's shares rose 2.8 percent on Wednesday after BlackRock sold part of its stake in the lender. BlackRock reduced its stake in the bank to 3.2 percent from 5.8 percent.
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