Europe closes mixed as oil weighs on sentiment

European equities came off session highs to close mixed on Wednesday, amid renewed pressure on oil prices and a lower trading session in the U.S.

The U.K.'s FTSE closed up 0.5 percent and France's CAC finished 0.3 higher. Germany's DAX, however, slipped to finish 0.25 percent lower.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.4 percent higher.


Crude oil prices rose overnight, before paring gains after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that U.S. commercial crude stocks had risen by 200,000 barrels, while gasoline saw a massive build in inventories.

Brent and U.S. light crude futures slipped back below $31 per barrel but remained above the $30 mark breached on Tuesday.

European oil and gas stocks declined after the EIA data, but still closed mostly higher.

BP, Seadrill and Subsea 7 all closed more than 1.5 percent higher.

Tullow Oil soared as much as 12 percent, before closing 4.7 percent up, after the London-listed company said it has enough cash to weather the weak oil market.

Metal prices saw a small bounce during trade, supporting some mining stocks, like Rio Tinto, which closed up nearly 2 percent. However, many closed lower, including Anglo American.

Earnings in focus

Earning season is underway, with many companies reporting on Wednesday.

French food services and facilities management firm, Sodexo, posted first-quarter 2015/2016 revenue growth of 4.7 percent like-for-like and confirmed its full-year targets. Shares closed up 2.7 percent.

Dutch insurance group Aegon skyrocketed to the top of the STOXX 600, up 9.7 percent, after announcing a 400 million euro ($433 million) share buyback program and increased its dividend for 2015.

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's fell more than 1 percent after it said like-for-like sales for the 15 weeks to Jan 9 fell 0.4 percent, excluding fuel.

In other corporate news, Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano shares ended sharply higher,up 4.2 and 5.6 percent respectively, after Reuters reported that the two banks were close to reaching a deal on a merger.

Autos was the worst performing sector on Wednesday after a strong day of trade the previous day. BMW, Daimler and Peugeot Citroen all closed more than 1 percent lower.

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