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European markets close higher on earnings; French election in focus; BP up 1.6%

European markets closed higher on Tuesday as investors reacted to fresh earnings and awaited the upcoming French presidential vote.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended 0.75 percent higher with most sectors and major bourses trading in positive territory.

Europe's oil and gas sector moved higher on earnings news. BP moved towards the top of the index after its profits almost tripled in the first quarter when compared to the year previous. Its shares were 1.6 percent higher on Tuesday.

Basic resources stocks capped European gains as the sector contracted over 0.76 percent. Mining giants Antofagasta, Fresnillo, Glencore and Randgold Resources all slipped by over 1.9 percent as positive sentiment from investors in the previous session appeared to dissipate.

London-based online grocer Ocado was at the top of the European benchmark earlier on Tuesday amid reports the firm was exploring a merger with Marks & Spencer. The company's shares rallied over 5.7 percent. The reports could not be independently verified by CNBC.

However, the Swiss technology group OC Oerlikon overtook Ocado in late trade and hit the top of the European benchmark. It rose 6.7 percent after increasing its full-year guidance for 2017.

Emerging markets-focused fund manager Aberdeen Asset Management reported first half revenues jumped 10.6 percent as cost-cutting and market gains combined to boost the firm's performance. Its shares moved over 4 percent higher.

Shares of Swedish polymer producer Hexpol slumped 9.4 percent on Tuesday. The Stockholm-based firm's stock was poised to post its worst trading day since March 30 as Kepler Cheuvreux slashed its rating to "hold" from "buy", citing a weaker outlook.

In the U.S., the Nasdaq set a fresh record high after yesterday's gains as investors focus on a Fed meeting, which is largely expected to hold rates steady this Wednesday but investors will be watching for indications of how monetary policy might change in the near future.

Breaking up big banks

The two political rivals in France's presidential race exchanged criticisms at the start of the final week of campaigning on Monday. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen attacked pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron as a "candidate of continuity", whereas the latter insisted he would fight "until the last second" to defeat the leader of the National Front. French citizens will elect a new premier in the second round run-off vote on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be honored to meet North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in an interview with Bloomberg News on Monday. However, the White House suggested many conditions would need to be cleared in order for the two premiers to schedule a meeting.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday. The meeting comes at a time when bilateral relations between Berlin and Moscow are at a low point over the war in Syria and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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