European shares closed higher on Wednesday after comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that his plan for the scaling back of stimulus measures could be changed, if economic data disappoints.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed up 0.6 percent at 1,198.30 points, after rallying in the afternoon when a statement from Bernanke was released ahead of his hearing before a Congressional committee. Britain's FTSE 100 closed up 0.2 percent, while the German DAX and French CAC 40 closed up 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.
In a printed copy of his testimony, released on the Federal Reserve's website, Bernanke said that the central bank's asset purchases - which have helped stocks to hit record highs this year - depend on economic and financial developments and are not on a preset course.
"If the outlook for employment were to become relatively less favorable, if inflation did not appear to be moving back toward 2 percent, or if financial conditions - which have tightened recently - were judged to be insufficiently accommodative to allow us to attain our mandated objectives, the current pace of purchases could be maintained for longer," Bernanke said.
Bernanke added: "Markets are beginning to understand our message and the volatility has obviously moderated." His comments helped ease markets nerves about asset purchase tapering becoming a concrete policy by the end of the year.
The rise in European shares was led by basic resources, which closed 2.34 percent up at the close.
Resources firm Fresnillo posted second quarter output numbers, which saw the firm lower its full-year gold output guidance. However, the miner did reaffirm that it remains on track to achieve 41 million ounces of attributable silver output this year. Fresnillo shares closed up by 2.56 percent.
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