European stocks finished slightly higher on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of the latest central bank decision from the U.S. Federal Reserve and digested a slew of earnings.
Greek stocks fall
The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up some 0.3 percent provisionally, with sectors pointing in different directions by the close. London's FTSE 100 finished up around 0.6 percent, while France's CAC jumped 0.6 percent and Germany's DAX close 0.4 percent up.
Greece's ATG equity index however under-performed other markets, closing down 2.5 percent. This comes after euro zone finance ministers delayed a meeting scheduled for Thursday and said they needed more time to discuss Greek reforms required for the country to access more bailout funds.
Asia markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday, while U.S. stocks were trading lower around Europe's close, ahead of key central bank decisions from the Fed on Wednesday and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Thursday.
The Fed is expected to signal a cautious stance when it releases its latest monetary policy stance later on Wednesday and is expected to leave the door open for another rate hike in June. After two days of meetings, the Fed will release a statement at 2 p.m.ET. The content is not expected to be much changed from its last one, but Fed watchers say the nuances will be important.
On the data front, U.K. gross domestic product increased 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of the year, a slowdown from the 0.6 percent rise in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Oil majors in focus; prices waver
The price of both Brent crude and U.S. crude futures came under pressure in later trade, after new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) came out. The EIA announced that U.S. commercial crude inventories had increased by 2 million barrels in the last week, coming in at 540.6 million barrels.
At the close Brent was slightly higher, around $46.17, while U.S. WTI hovered around $44.27. Prices also fluctuated throughout trade, after a slew of earnings from the sector came out. France's Total said net adjusted profit fell 37 percent year-on-year to $1.6 billion, ahead of analyst expectations, sending shares to close up 2.8 percent.
Shares of Norway's Statoil rallied over 6 percent after the company posted a 71 percent drop in first quarter adjusted operating profit due to the fall in oil prices but this still beat analyst expectations.
Meanwhile near the bottom of benchmarks, Finnish oil refiner Neste reported a bigger-than-expected slide in first-quarter operating profit, sending shares tanking, closing over 7.5 percent down.
Adidas jumps 6%; banks waver
On the earnings front, German sportswear maker Adidas increased its 2016 financial outlook after it reported a 38 percent rise in net income from continuing operations 350 million euros. Shares closed up some 6 percent, making it a top performer.
Belgian food retailer Delhaize reported a 291 percent rise in net profit in the first quarter of 2016 to 109 million euros, sending shares over 2 percent up.
In France, carmaker Peugeot Citroen recorded a 1.4 percent drop in first-quarter group sales due to negative currency effects, sending shares to close in the red.
A number of banks and financial names reported on Wednesday. Barclays group pre-tax profit dropped 25 percent to £793 million ($1.15 billion) in the first quarter, from the same period last year, but highlighted that it was making "good progress" in concentrating on its core business, where the pre-tax figure was up 18 percent at £1.6 billion. The news sent shares to close slightly up.
The European technology sector was also in focus for investors after U.S. giant Apple reported a 16 percent decline in iPhone shipments for its fiscal second-quarter. Some of its suppliers including Austria Microsystems closed down 2.6 percent.
STMicroelectronics, another Apple supplier, however was Europe's top performer, closing up 9.6 percent, after it reported that its gross margin beat its own target.