Europe shares close higher on China data, US debt deal
European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as investors around the globe cheered a combination of U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's reassurance of supportive monetary policy, strong Chinese export data and a U.S. debt deal in Congress.
China data buoys miners
The FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed 0.7 percent higher at 1,326.05 points as part of a successful rally that has continued for the last five sessions.
The basic resources sector pushed the pan-European index higher after better-than-expected Chinese data released overnight boosted mining stocks. Figures showed mainland exports grew 10.6 percent in January from the year-ago period, compared to a Reuters poll of economists forecasting 2 percent growth.
(Read More: China posts blow out trade data, exports jump 10.6%)
Overall sentiment also received a boost from U.S. lawmakers, who agreed to raise a debt ceiling without any add-on provisions.
(Read More: House passes debt-ceiling increase with no add-ons)
The news followed Tuesday's testimony from Yellen on Capital Hill, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average post triple-digit gains. The new Fed Chair stressed continuity in monetary policy and said the recovery in the labor market is far from finished.
(Read More: Yellen's new program: Same as the old one)
U.S. stocks were mostly lower on Wednesday, with Procter & Gamble's reduced earnings outlook weighing on the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 retreating after its largest four-day rise in more than a year.
BoE report released
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney unveiled the "next phase" of forward guidance - which initially tied the bank rate to the country's unemployment rates - after a sharp fall in jobless numbers took the central bank by surprise.
The bank also sharply revised up its growth forecasts for the U.K. economy in 2014. The central bank now expects gross domestic product growth of 3.4 percent this year - substantially higher than its earlier forecast of 2.8 percent.
(Read More: Carney unveils 'next phase' of forward guidance)
Meanwhile, euro zone production numbers failed to meet market expectations. Figures for December saw a fall of 0.7 percent on the month, compared to a 0.3 percent fall predicted in a Reuters poll. The number for the year rose by 0.5 percent but was below estimates of 1.8 percent.
SocGen shares rise
In corporate earnings, French lender Societe Generale reported full-year earnings on Wednesday which failed to meet market expectations but came in three times higher than the previous year; shares closed higher by around 4.7 percent.
(Read More: SocGen's earnings triple in 2013 but miss estimates)
Shares of oil major Total finished the day higher by roughly 1 percent after it confirmed long-term production targets and raised its quarterly dividend to 0.61 euros per share from 0.59 euros the previous quarter. The company, however, posted a 19 percent drop in fourth-quarter adjusted net profit to 2.47 billion euros ($3.38 billion) .
(Read More: Total fourth-quarter profit falls 19% on refining)
Shares of Heineken rose 0.4 percent after it highlighted an improved business performance for the year. The Dutch brewer reported a 4.6 percent drop in 2013 profit as the Dutch brewer struggled with worse-than-expected performance in developing markets and adverse regulatory developments such as higher excise duties on beer.
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