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European markets close higher; Siemens shares jump 5%; Volvo up 4%

European markets closed higher on Wednesday as investors focused on corporate earnings.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.86 percent higher with most sectors and major bourses trading in positive territory.

Basic resources led the gains, up by over 1.6 percent, after data showed an expansion in Chinese industrial production.

Auto stocks were also among the best performers Wednesday. The sector ended more than 1.29 percent higher after strong earnings data. Truckmaker Volvo reported better-than-expected quarterly core earnings while also raising its forecast for European sales in 2017. Its shares were close to the top of the European benchmark, up by more than 4.7 percent.

Banking stocks closed up by 1.37 percent. The Swiss private bank Julius Baer ended up by more than 1.25 percent, after reporting a 12 percent increase in its assets under management for 2016.

Cellnex Telecom closed near the top of the European benchmark on Wednesday after news it had reached a deal with the French Bouygues Telecom for the construction of 3,000 sites in France. The deal amounts to 854 million euros ($921 million).

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average contracted from triple-digit gains shortly after the open and was flat in late morning trade on Wednesday. The broader S&P 500 also retreated to trade slightly lower ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's first interest rate announcement since the new administration took office.

In other corporate earning reports, the Swiss health care firm Roche announced a 5 percent rise in its core operating profit for last year. Shares of the German engineering giant Siemens surged higher on Wednesday as well after it lifted its profit guidance and earnings. BBVA said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit dropped due to pressure on the Mexican peso.

Volkswagen agreed to pay at least $1.26 billion in compensation in the U.S. and could pay more than $4 billion if regulators don't approve fixes to cars, Reuters reported based on court documents. Its shares closed 1.25 percent higher.


Data releases

In terms of data, the U.K. published a manufacturing PMI reading of 55.9, as expected. The euro zone final PMI reading was slightly above forecast at 55.2. According to Nationwide, U.K. house prices increased only slightly in January. It added that the outlook for the housing market remains uncertain.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank has decided it would not demand Italian lender UniCredit to book more write-downs on its bad loans than those already scheduled, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the dollar was subdued after President Donald Trump accused Germany and Japan of devaluing their currencies to gain a trade advantage.


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Oil prices were limited on Wednesday by news that weekly U.S. supply data suggested a crude glut may persist despite Russia and other OPEC producers reaffirming their pledge to deliver on supply cuts.

Brent crude traded at around $56.35 a barrel on Wednesday shortly after the European close, up 1.4 percent, while U.S. crude was around $53.46 a barrel, up 1.23 percent.

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