Europe Markets

Europe closes higher with Greece in focus

Europe closes higher with Greece in focus

European stocks pared losses to close largely higher on Wednesday, after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he had submitted reform proposals to creditors, with "concrete" plans hopefully due in the coming days.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed around the flat line, despite trading both in the green and red during Wednesday's session.

Britain's FTSE 100 finished the day on a high around 0.9 percent higher, while France's CAC and Germany's DAX both closed up around 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, stocks in Italy—whose economy is viewed as more vulnerable to contagion from Greece—outperformed other bourses, with the benchmark FTSE MIB ending up around 2.6 percent.

Across the Atlantic however, U.S. stocks fell about 1 percent on Wednesday, as continued concerns about Greece and the extended selloff in the Chinese market hit investor sentiment. Trading was then suspended on the New York Stock Exchange, possibly because of technical malfunctions

Tsipras told lawmakers in the European Parliament that Greece would submit "concrete" reform proposals in the coming days. The prime minister's speech was viewed positively by the markets, as he vowed to tackle unsustainable public debt and vested interests in the country.

Barclays CEO steps down

In individual stocks news, Barclays ended the day on a high note after the British bank announced its chief executive Anthony Jenkins wouldl step down later this month. Shares were up over 3 percent, before paring gains to close 2 percent higher.

Overall, industry sectors in Europe closed mixed, with oil and gas, utilities, and chemicals managing to hold onto session gains.

The auto sector traded down nearly 2 percent, with BMW, Renault and Peugeot Citroen all closing sharply lower. Renault was the worst performer of the three, ending 4.5 percent lower. BMW closed down 1.9 percent and Peugeot was down 2.9 percent.

UK budget

Britain's housebuilders were hammered after the country's finance minister announced that the government would tighten the rules on non-domiciled tax statuses of individual.

These measures, along with a tightening of buy-to-let regulations, hit housebuilders. Barratt Development plunged to close 5.7 percent lower, Taylor Wimpey ended 5.0 percent lower, while Persimmon finished down 4.7 percent.

Estate agent Foxtons tanked, closing down 4.4 percent. Berkeley Group and Bellway both dropped near to the bottom of the Stoxx 600, closing down 7.0 and 6.7 percent respectively.

In addition, the finance minister said that pensions could be "treated like ISAs" and that he would publish a consultation on changing the rules. The move gave a boost to the shares of pension providers, with Aviva closing up 3.5 percent, Old Mutual up 2.8 percent and Standard Life ending the day 1.3 percent higher.