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European stocks finish higher; RSA surges 20%

European equities ended in positive territory Tuesday, as investors kept an eye on the slew of earnings and the start of the Federal Reserve meeting, which may give investors a hint of a possible rate hike in 2015.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index finished around 1 percent higher Tuesday, as all major bourses and sectors were ended in the green.

London's FTSE 100 and the French CAC both closed around 0.8 percent higher, with the U.K. market benefiting from positive GDP data, while Germany's DAX finished around 1 percent higher.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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RSA shoots 20%

Earnings season continued to be a key focus for markets in Europe, with shares of Zurich Insurance finished 1.8 percent lower on Tuesday after the company said it was weighing up a bid for British rival RSA Insurance Group. The U.K insurer however, soared to the top of the Stoxx 600, finishing up around 18 percent.

Diageo shares closed flat on news that the global drinks maker is planning to restructure its South African and Namibian operations and sell equity stakes in its joint ventures in the region to Heineken. However, by mid-afternoon shares in the alcohol brand were trading flat.

BP, one of the world's biggest oil companies, announced a second-quarter replacement cost loss of $6.3 billion Tuesday, and warned that low oil prices are here to stay. Its shares were initially trading lower by 0.8 percent Tuesday, but pared losses to finish up 1.4 percent.

French tire-maker Michelin posted solid gains in first-half sales and profit on Tuesday but warned that second-half profit growth will be held back by by agreements restricting its ability to pass raw-material cost increases to customers. Shares of the company fell close to bottom of the Stoxx 600, down over 6 percent.

U.S. stocks traded mostly higher Tuesday as investors found encouragement from some recovery in Chinese stocks and eyed mixed earnings as the Federal Reserve began its two-day meeting.

Elsewhere in the world

In other news, the U.K.'s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015, according to preliminary official data, meeting expectations.

Focus in Asia and Europe is also on the fall in commodity prices. Spot gold was trading at its weakest level since early 2010 on Tuesday morning at $1,093.45 an ounce, however by the afternoon, traded higher to around $1,096.30. U.S. crude futures were trading around $47 a barrel, while Brent was down $52.50 a barrel.

In other news, discussions to complete a third bailout program between Greece and its creditors will start on Tuesday, a week later than planned. The pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to maintain unity in his Syriza party as the more leftist members oppose the bailout package, which demands deeper austerity measures in Greece.