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Europe stocks close lower as Fed minutes loom; earnings dominate

European stocks closed lower on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious ahead of the closely-watched release of the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest minutes.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down around 0.8 percent, despite opening higher. All industry sectors ended lower, as did all major bourses.

The U.K.'s benchmark FTSE 100 ended down around 0.5 percent. The French CAC was down 0.9 percent and the German DAX ended around 1.3 percent lower.

Portugal's PSI 20 closed around 1.1 percent down as Portuguese sovereign debt yields spiked after a warning on the country's credit rating.

Fed minutes ahead

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FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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Global investors awaited the release of the minutes from the Fed's meeting in July, which may give clues as to when it will next raise interest rates. U.S. markets declined ahead of the release.

Elsewhere, investors eyed U.K. employment data that showed the country's jobless rate held steady at 4.9 percent in the three months to June. The July count for unemployment benefits fell, which surprised analysts who had expected a rise following the Brexit vote.

Sterling was slightly down against the U.S. dollar, trading at $1.300 when European stock markets closed.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell on Wednesday, as traders mulled mixed signs regarding the prospect of OPEC and non-OPEC oil-producing countries reining in crude production. Brent and U.S. WTI crude futures were trading at around $49.15 and $46.20 when European stock markets closed.

Carlsberg loses fizz

A number of European corporates reported earnings on Wednesday. Danish brewer Carlsberg reported first-half results that missed expectations, knocking shares by over 5 percent.

Shares of Admiral closed 7.7 percent lower after the U.K. insurance company warned that market volatility around the Brexit vote had impacted its solvency ratio. But it also reported a 4 percent year-on-year rise in first half group profit before tax.

Meanwhile, ABN Amro shares closed 2.5 percent higher after the Dutch bank reported a 7 percent rise in second-quarter operating profits, beating analysts' expectations.

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Balfour Beatty shares closed 3 percent higher after the construction company reinstated its divided after positive first-half results.

However, Europe's top-performing stock by far was Indivior, which jumped as much as 17 percent after the British pharmaceutical company announced positive results from a trial of a new drug.

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