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Europe shares close lower, but post strong gains for Q1

European equities closed down on Tuesday, as investors reacted to fresh economic data from the euro zone and booked some profits after a stellar rally in the previous session.

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The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 index finished around 0.6 percent lower, after posting some moderate gains earlier in the session.

On the quarter, European stocks have bolted out of the starting blocks with a gain of around 16 percent year-to-date for the Stoxx 600.This is the best quarterly percentage gain since the third quarter of 2009,

Euro zone unemployment data on Tuesday morning ticked down to 11.3 percent in February, from 11.4 percent in January. This was its lowest rate since May 2012.

A flash figure for euro zone inflation came in at -0.1 percent in March, up from February's number.

Read MoreEuro zone deflation eases further as QE takes hold

Greece in focus

Investors this quarter have been concentrating on volatility in the oil market and concerns over Greece's debt problems. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday his government was ready to implement a deal struck with euro zone lenders, but would not do it at any cost, Reuters reported.

"Greece jitters continue to weigh," Marius Paun and Jonathan Sudaria, two dealers at Capital Spreads, said in a research note. "The brinkmanship continues as both sides continue to stare at each other over the political void. Despite Greece hurtling towards bankruptcy, an agreement continues to evade."

U.S. stocks traded lower on Tuesday, following the prior day's major gains, as investors eyed economic data and the end of the first quarter. Analysts were encouraged by the latest consumer confidence reading which showed an increase to 101.3 in March, above February's 98.8.


Raiffeisen rises

In individual stocks news, Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank rose to the top of benchmarks after a rating upgrade from JP Morgan, finishing over 6 percent higher.

Shares of Kingfisher closed 4.3 percent higher after its full-year results on Tuesday morning. The company - which owns a range of DIY stores - said it would close poorly performing outlets and has shelved plans to buy a French rival called Mr Bricolage.

Meanwhile, shipping giant Moller-Maersk tanked over 12 percent due to a dividend payout.

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