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European shares close down on weak results

European equities closed down on Tuesday, as weak corporate results halted a recent rally, and as China unveiled a reform agenda for the next decade.

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The FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed down 0.6 percent at 1,291.17 points, as weaker metal prices weighed on the basic resources sector.

The FTSEurofirst 300's rally, which has seen the index rise by around 14 percent since the start of 2013, stalled on Tuesday following a string of weak corporate results. Almost half of the companies on the pan-European STOXX 600 index that have posted their quarterly earnings so far have missed profit forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Commodity prices have been weaker in recent days with caution over China's future policy direction ahead of the end of its so-called plenum of Communist party leaders. Many analysts are expecting a shift to a more consumer-led economy, over a traditional investment-led interest in metals like copper and iron ore.

China's ruling party pledged on Tuesday it would let markets play a "decisive" role in allocating resources, according to Reuters. At the four-day meeting of top bosses for the ruling Communist party, it added that its aims to achieve "decisive results" by 2020.

(Read More: China pledges 'decisive' role for markets in reform push)

Fed woes

Attention also remained firmly on the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday ahead of key comments from two different Fed presidents. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota speaks at 1 p.m. New York time on monetary policy strategy, and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart speaks on the economic outlook at 1:50 p.m. New York time.

Meanwhile, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told CNBC that the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program cannot last forever.

(Read More: Fed's Richard Fisher: QE won't go on forever)

"We've changed and impacted the markets because of our intervention and I understand there's sensitivity, but markets should also bear in mind that this program cannot go on forever," he said.

"The balance sheet is $4 trillion and there are limits to what the Federal Reserve can do," Fisher, who is in Melbourne speaking at an Economic Development for Australia function, added.

German surplus debate

In European news, the European Commission is poised to discuss launching an in-depth review of the German economy this week amid a fraught debate about the country's large current account surpluses.

(Read More: Germany is ripping off the world: Adam Posen)

In the U.K., a surge in the demand for homes has led to the most widespread rise in house prices in more than 11 years during October, according to data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on Tuesday. The data may fuel fears that in the absence of a pickup in home-building, the U.K. may again be on the brink of a property bubble.

That news comes ahead of the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report, to be published on Wednesday. Analysts say the central bank could revise up its economic forecasts in the face of an improving economy, prompting speculation that it could raise interest rates earlier than expected.

Also in the U.K., consumer price inflation fell to an annual rate of 2.2 percent in October from 2.7 percent in September, the Office for National Statistics said, its lowest rate for more than a year.

In stocks news, shares of Deutsche Post closed down 0.14 percent as operating profit hit estimates, but CEO Frank Appel said that he hadn't seen a global turnaround for the sector yet.

Vodafone shares were slightly higher on Tuesday, closing up 1.71 percent, after the firm said it was ramping up investment in its network after reporting a drop in core profit for the first half of its financial year.

U.K. telecoms group Talk Talk raised its revenue guidance for the year despite swinging to a small first-half loss; shares provisionally closed up 10.2 percent.

Swiss Life announced on Tuesday that CEO Bruno Pfister would be leaving the company in July next year; shares in the life insurance company closed the day higher by 5.06 percent.

Shares of German household consumer products maker Henkel rose by 1.27 percent after it raised its profit margin target for 2013.

German chip maker Infineon released its results update, which disappointed investors. Shares closed lower by 5.61 percent after the firm revealed a drop in revenue for the current fiscal quarter.

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