European equities finished with modest gains on Wednesday, as oil attempted a price recovery and a jump in banks and miners offset mixed earnings reports.
Oil in focus
The pan-European STOXX 600 finished slightly higher, up 0.7 percent provisionally, recovering from earlier losses. Major bourses finished mixed, however. The FTSE 100 remained under pressure, ending down some 0.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 bounced back, closing 0.4 percent up. Germany's DAX finished 0.6 percent up as strong performance from its autos stocks boosted sentiment.
Crude prices recovered in late Wednesday, despite concerns over a supply glut still brewing. On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said crude inventories rose by 10.4 million barrels to a total of 518 million barrels. The EIA however did report that U.S. production had fallen in the last week, which generated hope among investors.
Brent crude edged slightly higher by the close, while U.S. crude was trading up around $34.63. Individual stocks however remained mixed, with Subsea 7 off some 5.6 percent, after it posted a net loss of $421 million in its fourth quarter for 2015.
Amec Foster led the sector, finishing close to 10 percent higher after the engineering firm said it had completed its refinancing of its main debt facilities.
In the U.S., Wall Street remained under pressure on Wednesday as oil prices and data kept investors on edge.
Metal prices posted solid gains on Wednesday, with the basic resources sector rallying 2 percent. Glencore and Anglo American both closed higher, over 3.5 and 6.5 percent respectively. The sector was Europe's strongest gainer, finishing up 3.7 percent.
Elsewhere, European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member, Benoit Coeure, said European banks can overcome the negative central bank rates, while the ECB's commitment to price stability has helped support the banking sector's profitability. The comments from Coeure boosted the STOXX 600 Banking sector, which closed up some 3.4 percent.
Several euro zone banks posted solid gains, with Italian bank, Banco Popolare closing up over 7 percent.
Earnings in focus
On the earnings front, British broadcaster ITV said it expects to outperform the television advertising market in 2016 after full-year revenue rose 15 percent, sending shares to close some 3.5 percent down.
British bank Virgin Money saw shares rise 7 percent after its full-year underlying profit before tax increased by 53 percent year-on-year.
Swedish medical technology group Elekta was the STOXX 600's worst performer, down almost 15 percent after third-quarter earnings fell below market expectations.
The world's biggest eyewear maker, Luxottica slumped 4.6 percent after the luxury brand trimmed its outlook and announced that it wouldn't pay a special dividend, Reuters reported.
On the data front, Spain's jobless rate rose by 0.05 percent in February from the previous month, with 4.15 million people still unemployed, official statistics showed.