Europe finishes near session highs; Fed in focus; French stocks up 1%
European equities closed the session in positive territory after consumer data and earnings in the U.S. helped to boost sentiment in afternoon trade.
The Euro Stoxx 600 rebounded on Tuesday after three days of declines amid an emerging market selloff which hit risk assets in developed nations. The pan-European benchmark closed provisionally higher by 0.69 percent at 324.24 points.
Sentiment was strong in the morning session but dipped in early afternoon trade as the U.S. Commerce Department said durable goods orders dropped 4.3 percent, the largest drop since July, and reversed November's revised 2.6 percent rise. U.S. stocks trimmed their limited gains after the news, and European stocks followed suit.
However, earnings reports and consumer confidence for the U.S. helped boost stocks in Europe too. Consumer confidence rose to 80.7 in January, versus expectations the index would come in at 78.1, unchanged from the prior month. This helped European bourses to close near sessions highs.
The Fed meeting will be the last to be led by outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke, and most analysts expect another $10 billion tapering off of the central bank's massive asset purchasing program.
UK sees growth
Meanwhile, the British economy recorded its fastest annual growth rate since the start of the financial crisis, with full-year growth up 1.9 percent in 2013 from just 0.3 percent in 2012.
The news contrasts with data out of France showing a further rise in unemployment. The number of people who are "category A" unemployed — fully rather than partially unemployed — rose 0.3 percent to 3.3 million in December. The data is another blow for President Francois Hollande who had pledged to start lowering unemployment by the end of 2013.
(Read More: UK economy records fastest growth in 6 years)
Swedbank shares lower
Several other companies reported earnings early on Tuesday. Shares of the Dutch group Philips traded in and out of positive territory after the company reported sales that missed analysts' expectations. Shares closed provisionally lower by 0.23 percent
(Read more: Philips sales miss estimates; raises dividend)
Meanwhile, Swedbank posted net profit that missed expectations. Shares closed provisionally lower by 4.58 percent on the news.
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