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Europe ends on a high as investors digest Yellen comments; oil prices pare

  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed sharply higher, up 1.52 percent
  • In prepared remarks to Congress, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that the central bank will likely begin unwinding its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio later in 2017, and that the Fed was closely watching inflation data.
  • JD Wetherspoon and Burberry report higher sales.

European bourses finished Wednesday on a buoyant note as investors digested the latest comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in the U.S., while wading through corporate earnings results.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed near session highs on Wednesday, finishing up 1.52 percent. All sectors ended in the black, while the French CAC 40 jumped 1.59 percent and Germany's DAX popped 1.52 percent. The FTSE 100 finished up 1.19 percent.

The oil & gas sector closed up 1.47 percent on Wednesday, boosted by an uptick in oil prices. Oil price gains however eased later on in trade after government data showed U.S. crude stocks sank more than expected in the previous week as imports fell and drillers continued to pump more. Both Brent crude and U.S. crude pared significant gains by the close, trading at $47.72 and $45.41 respectively.

In earnings news, pub chain JD Wetherspoon reported a 5.3 percent increase in like-for-like sales in the second quarter of this year. Shares fluctuated between gains and losses during trade, before settling up 0.35 percent.

Luxury fashion brand Burberry also announced a boost to underlying revenues, which grew 3 percent. The stock jumped more than 3 percent.

Engineering company Amec Foster took one of the main spots at the bottom of the European benchmark after it was revealed that it was the target of a bid from the John Wood Group. Amec slipped 5.49 percent while John Wood was off 3.5 percent.

Book publisher Pearson failed to recover from the losses it saw on Tuesday, after it announced plans to sell a 22 percent stake in Penguin Random House. The stock remained a weak performer on Wednesday, ending 4.7 percent down.

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Meanwhile, Micro Focus sank 8.1 percent after its full-year results missed analyst expectations.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced that it had reached a settlement with the U.S.'s Federal Housing Finance Agency. On Wednesday the bank said it would pay $5.5 billion to settle one of the two major U.S. investigations into allegations it missold mortgage-backed bonds. Shares came under pressure following the news, ending almost 2 percent down.

Yellen in focus

Stateside, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that the central bank will likely begin unwinding its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio later in 2017 and that the Fed was closely watching inflation data.

The Fed Chair also noted in prepared remarks to Congress that rates wouldn't have to rise as much to get to neutral, as in previous decades.

At the market close, Yellen was not only delivering her remarks in front of Congress, but also answered questions on the health of the U.S. economy and monetary policy.

U.S. equities traded higher around the Europe market close as investors parsed through prepared remarks from the top-ranking Federal Reserve official.

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