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Europe closes higher after China GDP relief

European shares closed higher on Monday as investors breathed a sigh of relief following the release of second-quarter Chinese growth data, which met analyst's expectations and eased fears of a sharp growth slowdown.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed higher by 0.3 percent at 1,199.20 points, after China's second quarter growth came in at 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, meeting expectations. However, growth was down from 7.7 percent in the previous quarter.

Nonetheless, some analysts had feared growth could be far weaker. The Shanghai Composite rallied 1 percent after the news, Hong Kong stocks pared gains to trade flat and gold ticked higher on the news. European mining stocks including Fresnillo, Glencore, Polymetal and Rio Tinto closed higher on Monday.

"Solid Chinese GDP has provided the comfort many investors were looking for and equities have been given a confidence boost in early trade," Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at stockbroker Interactive Investor, said in a morning note on Monday.

U.S. stocks wavered on either side of neutral Monday, with major averages struggling to extend their climb to fresh highs, as investors digested a handful of mixed economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all toggled in and out of positive territory.

(Read More: China's economy slows for second straight quarter)

Britain's top share index, the FTSE 100, climbed to a six-week high of 6,605.90, the highest since late May, before paring back slightly to close at 6,586,11.

Commerzbank closed up 4.73 percent after selling British property loans worth 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) to U.S. rival Wells Fargo, as well as being boosted by a magazine article suggesting the German government was considering selling its shares in the company.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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In Europe, the top three political parties in Portugal set a deadline of July 21 to push through bailout reforms. Named the "national salvation pact," the deal aims to ensure that reforms critical to Portugal's bailout are not jeopardized by the recent political disruptions in the country which have seen two government ministers resign over austerity measures.

The Portuguese PSI 20 index provisionally closed up 0.72 percent.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said Europe's second-largest economy was recovering, in an interview with TV network France 2 TV on Sunday. His comments came two days after ratings agency Fitch stripped the country of its last top-notch credit rating, citing a deteriorating debt outlook and an uncertain economic environment in the euro zone.

Former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre, nicknamed "Fabulous Fab," went on trial on Monday. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Tourre misled investors when he was a vice-president at the bank in 2007. The trial could reopen the debate over Wall Street's role in the credit crunch, and Tourre could face a fine or a ban from the securities industry.