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European markets close mixed; Trump fires FBI Director; Barclays up 2.2%

European markets closed marginally higher Wednesday despite suffering a mixed trading day following the abrupt dismissal of FBI head James Comey and a varied batch of corporate earnings.

The FTSE was the best performer of the day, closing up 0.59 percent at 7,385; the DAX ended up 0.07 percent at 12,757, and the CAC finished higher by 0.05 percent at 5,400.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.1, though sectors ended in mixed territory.

Construction and materials stocks were the worst performers Wednesday as investors reacted to earnings news. Germany's HeidelbergCement reported operating profits for the first three months of the year had contracted 3 percent compared to 2016's first-quarter. Its shares closed down 1.22 percent.

Media stocks also moved lower Wednesday on worse-than-expected earnings reports. Commercial broadcaster ITV was seen near the bottom of the benchmark throughout the day after it said net advertising revenue could fall by as much as 20 percent in June. The U.K. based firm's shares dipped 2.5 percent in early deals but regained some ground to close down 2.2 percent.

Elsewhere, oil & gas, banks and retail were some of the better performers.

Dutch banking firm ING Groep ended Wednesday 1.3 percent higher, boosted by underlying pretax profits. Despite posting a fall in first-quarter profits, the Netherlands' largest lender by assets said it had been supported by continued loan growth and good cost control.

Barclays shares also jumped more than 2.2 percent on the news that shareholders had voted to retain boss Jes Staley by a 97 percent majority at the bank's annual general meeting. The CEO had come under pressure following a whistleblowing scandal.

French oil storage and distribution firm, Rubis, also finished near the top of the benchmark after posting a revenue jump in its first-quarter results. Both Goldman Sachs and Kepler Cheuvreux raised their respective price targets for the firm shortly after the upbeat earnings call. Shares in Rubis soared to the top of the index, up over 5 percent.

Across the pond, U.S. markets headed into Wednesday in the red after the latest announcement from the White House worried investors.

Trump fires Comey

Markets appeared on edge Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly dismissed FBI Director James Comey in a move that shocked Washington. The White House claimed the sudden termination of Comey's contract Tuesday evening was over his handling of Hilary Clinton's emails. However, Democrats said the decision was most likely as a result of the FBI investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is set to deliver a speech on the impact of monetary policy. The ECB chief will address the Dutch Parliament at around 12 p.m. London time on Wednesday.

In the U.K., the Crown Prosecution Service announced while there was evidence of inaccurate spending returns among Conservative members of parliament, none would face charges for breaches of expenses rules. Prosecutors said Wednesday one case remained under investigation.

Elsewhere, U.S., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is poised to welcome Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Washington on Wednesday. Ukraine, Syria and bilateral issues between the U.S. and Russia are set to be discussed.

Finally, in Asia, South Korea's newly elected President, Moon Jae-in, has been sworn in after a comfortable victory. The liberal former human rights lawyer said has said he would be willing to visit Pyongyang "in the right circumstances."

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