European shares closed higher on Wednesday, mirroring gains in the U.S. after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated his commitment to maintaining loose monetary policy. However, both European and U.S. shares pared some gains after Bernanke's more hawkish comments in the Q&A session.
In his Congressional testimony, Bernanke restated the central bank's intention "to maintain highly accommodative monetary policy as long as needed". But in the subsequent Q&A session, he added that a decision to scale back bond purchases could be made at one of the Fed's next meetings.
(Read More: Bernanke: Too Soon to Taper Bond Buys)
"For all the concerns over a Fed tapering, the central bank continues to see downside risks for the global economy despite a marked reduction in risk aversion in financial markets," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Milller Tabak, in a research note.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,255.06 points, its highest close in five years. The index is up more than 10 percent year-to-date.
BoE Votes No to More Stimulus
Members of the Bank of England were split 6-3 against any new stimulus for the U.K. economy, according to minutes from May's Monetary Policy Committee meeting, published on Wednesday. The sterling fell during morning trade after weak sales data was also released for the U.K.
(Read More: Sterling Slides on Data, IMF Warns UK Over Growth)
Cost-Cutting Plan Sees Britvic Shares Surge
Shares in U.K.-based drinks company Britvic topped the Stoxx 600 after it announced a cost cutting program and plans to expand into India, on Wednesday. And Metro was the second top gainer on the index, after Morgan Stanley raised its outlook on the German retailer to "overweight".