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Europe stocks trim gains but close higher

European shares closed higher on Wednesday, having trimmed gains as investors awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's news conference after the central bank's monetary policy meeting.

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Price
 
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FTSE
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DAX
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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 provisionally closed up 0.4 percent at 1,257.0 points. It trimmed gains after Wall Street opened mixed, with investors hesitant about a potential announcement by Bernanke about the tapering of the Fed's stimulus program. Investors expect the central bank to scale back monthly asset purchases by $10-15 billion, while keeping interest rates close to zero for some time.

Shares of Spanish clothes retailer Inditex, which owns Zara, closed around 0.8 percent higher after the group posted a 1 percent rise in first-half profit to 951 million euros ($1.3 billion), year-on-year, beating expectations.

Shares of engineering company Smiths Group closed up roughly 2.6 percent, making the company the second-best performer on the FTSE Index, after ARM.

The group announced a 2 percent rise in full-year revenue to £3.1 billion, with operating profit up 1 percent at £560 million. The group also declared a special dividend and announced restructuring measures.

Philip Bowman, chief executive of Smiths Group, told CNBC that he was satisfied with the results, in light of tough economic conditions.

"We're much better positioned today given the fact we live in the reality of a much slower growth world economy than we had six or seven years ago, and we're better prepared to respond to that. So overall, I'm comfortable with the way we're going. We did have some difficult headwinds last year…so against [those] the results have been resilient."

The group also said that it would continue to raise its investment in sales, marketing and new product development.

In other earnings news, Premier League champions Manchester United reported record revenues of £363.2 million for the year, driven by high-profile sponsorship deals.

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