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European stocks close higher despite weak German data; Sports Direct down 8%

European stocks closed higher on Wednesday, despite weak German industrial production numbers and as investors awaited economic data from the U.S.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed up around 0.2 percent, while the French CAC 40 and German DAX both rose nearly 0.6 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 finished up 0.2 percent.

Apple in focus

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FTSE
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IBEX 35
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In the U.S., Wall Street hovered around the flatline at the open, before trading lower. Investors were waiting on a key report from the Federal Reserve to judge the state of the economy.

In stocks news, shareholders of U.S. seed producer Monsanto increased the pressure on Bayer to raise its already sweetened takeover offer. However, some of the German firm's investors say the current offer is already too high, the Financial Times reported. Bayer shares closed up around 1.1 percent.

Apple was in focus ahead of its latest product launch and its New York-listed shares traded roughly 0.3 percent lower when European markets closed.

"There has been scant signs of 'buy the rumor of new features' in Apple shares, which necessarily makes it difficult to sell the fact of 'the same old iPhone'," Jasper Lawler, market analyst for CMC Markets, said.

Volkswagen shares closed up around 1.4 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported the German carmaker was in advanced talks with China Anhui Jianghuai Automobile to produce electric vehicles in the country.

Sports Direct down 8%

In other stocks news, Sports Direct, the British retailer unveiled a plan on Wednesday to improve working conditions over the next two to four years. Shares in the firm closed down more than 8 percent.

Airline stocks Lufthansa and Air France-KLM closed lower after Deutsche Bank cut its outlook for the stocks.

And shares of Worldpay closed near the bottom of the STOXX 600 after two of the payment processor's largest shareholders — Advent International Corp and Bain Capital — sold 350 million shares in the company.

On the data front, German industrial output for July fell 1.5 percent month-on-month, according to data from the Economy Ministry, its steepest monthly drop since August 2014.

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