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European markets close higher on earnings; Trump tax plan in focus; Kering soars 9%

European markets closed higher on Wednesday, supported by a deluge of earning results which largely outperformed market expectations.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up by 0.47 percent with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory. France's CAC and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 both ended up over 0.18 percent with Germany's DAX closing marginally above the flatline.

European shares hovered close to 20-month highs as retail stocks led the gains on Wednesday. The sector was buoyed by strong earning reports with French luxury brand Kering posting record quarterly sales. Its shares ended over 9 percent higher.

Stocks in the utilities sector were the worst performers after some changes to credit scores. Fitch ratings agency warned Wednesday that there could be downgrades for Italian utility firms currently rated BBB+, if the country's rating is lowered to BB+.

Auto stocks pared losses from earlier in the session with Fiat Chrysler reporting stronger-than-expected results in the first three months of the year. The world's seventh-largest carmaker posted an 11 percent rise in first quarter adjusted operating profit and its shares rose over 9 percent by Wednesday's close.

Elsewhere, Novozymes showed first-quarter figures in line with expectations, sending shares 4.7 percent higher. While, Bic closed at the bottom of the benchmark, down by over 10 percent, after announcing lower net income and net sales in its first quarter.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Nasdaq composite index hit an all-time record high on Wednesday after crossing the 6,000 mark for the first time in its history in the previous session. Both the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P500 also continued slightly higher as investors eagerly awaited the much-heralded release of President Trump's "massive" tax plan.

Earnings eyed

The London Stock Exchange reported an increase in quarterly income and gross profit while adding that it is looking into ways to invest and drive growth. Its shares closed slightly higher.

Credit Suisse announced a capital raise of about 4 billion Swiss francs ($4 billion), while ditching plans to float a minority stake in its Swiss banking unit. The Swiss bank reported a net profit of 596 million francs for the first quarter of 2017. Its shares rose 2.6 percent.

The Spanish lender Santander reported a 14 percent increase in profits for the first quarter mainly driven by its Brazilian business. The stock edged higher on Wednesday.

Tullow Oil reported Wednesday a contraction in net debt to $4.6 billion in March from $4.8 billion at the end of last year. Its shares closed over 1 percent lower.

Central banks and data

In terms of data, consumer confidence figures were unchanged in France in April compared to the previous month.

Turkey's central bank surprised investors on Wednesday after it raised the highest of its multiple interest rates in an apparent bid to rein in double-digit inflation amid concerns of policy independence, Reuters reported.

The European Central Bank is due to meet on Thursday, where analysts will be searching for a slight change in rhetoric.

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