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European shares close higher on positive Chinese data

European shares closed higher on Wednesday, as better-than-expected Chinese growth data and a slew of earnings releases buoyed sentiment.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed higher by 1.2 percent at 1,322.23 points, with all major bourses and sectors posting a broad-based rally.

Italy's FTSE MIB, which has had a strong 2014 so far, recouped its Tuesday losses to close provisionally 3.4 percent higher.

Data on Wednesday showed China's economy grew an annualized 7.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, slowing from a 7.7 percent increase in the last quarter of 2013.

The gross domestic product (GDP) number was just above analyst expectations for a 7.3 percent increase. Still, the first-quarter number marked China's slowest annual growth since the third quarter of 2012.

Read MoreChina Q1 GDP growth slows to 7.4%, beats expectations

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CAC 40
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IBEX 35
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The U.K. FTSE 100 closed unofficially 0.7 percent higher, after several big names reporting results.

Tesco reported a 6 percent dip in full-year profit, but very low expectations before the results meant shares closed the day around 2.7 percent higher, and rival supermarkets also rallied on the news.

Shares of Burberry rose roughly 3.2 percent, after the luxury goods company reported a jump in revenues, but saw profits hit by currency headwinds.

Read MoreBurberry still a hit in Asia, currency headwinds loom

Sports Direct saw a boost after a positive note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The bank said the retailer could grow its top line at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent over the next decade. Sports Direct shares closed the day higher by just over 5.8 percent.

UK data beats

On the data front, U.K. unemployment fell to 6.9 percent in the three months leading to February, a new five-year low. The Office of National Statistics also said that for the first time since April 2010, wage growth rose in line with inflation.

Read MoreUK unemployment hits 5-year low, pay growth upbeat

Meanwhile, a final reading for March inflation in the euro zone showed consumer prices rose 0.5 percent on the same period a year before.

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