European equities closed mixed on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting and digested the annual U.K. Budget statement.
U.K. investors focused on the Budget, which was presented by the country's finance minister, George Osborne, around midday. The FTSE built on gains during and after Osborne's speech.
Osborne upped his economic growth forecast for 2016 to 2.3 percent, but revised down growth figures for last year. He also signaled plans to scale back austerity measures—just in time for May's national election.
Notably, the Budget contained tax cuts and benefits aimed at boosting the U.K.'s North Sea oil industry. British oil majors continued to gain after the announcement, with Royal Dutch Shell and BP rising by around 2 percent on the day.
Swedish stocks hit new highs
Standard Chartered soars
In individual stock news, shares of lender Standard Chartered closed 7.5 percent higher and topped the FTSE 100 after a price upgrade by analysts at Barclays.
Speculation has mounted that the Fed could drop the word "patience" from its guidance about the pace at which it will normalize monetary policy. Some investors think that U.S. interest rates could be raised as early as June.
Closer to home, Greece frustrated its euro zone peers by refusing to give an update on its reform progress at a scheduled teleconference on Tuesday, insisting instead that the discussions should be delayed until Thursday's European Union summit.
The Greek Athens Composite index finished more than 4 percent lower on Wednesday.
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