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European markets end higher; Fed minutes in focus

  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed higher as North Korea tensions eased.
  • Balfour Beatty was among the top performers of the European benchmark after stronger-than-expected earnings news.
  • On the data front, there were further signs of strength in the euro zone's economy on Wednesday. On an annual basis. the region's GDP grew by 2.2 percent in the second quarter. The figure was slightly stronger-than-expected.

European stocks closed higher on Wednesday afternoon, as geopolitical tensions in the Korean peninsula eased and investors braced for the release of minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended up by 0.69 percent, led by gains in basic resources and energy companies as metal and oil prices rose.

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IBEX 35
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Looking at individual stocks, Balfour Beatty was the top performer of the European benchmark after stronger-than-expected earnings news. The British construction business reported first-half profit had jumped almost 70 percent on Wednesday after a two-year overhaul appeared to put the firm back into the black. Its shares closed above 6 percent.

U.K. motor and home insurer, Admiral Group, posted a 1 percent increase in profit before tax for the first six months of the year. However, costs from an increase in the British government's personal injury rate hampered the firm's growth. Its shares slipped more than 6 percent on the news.

Meantime, Danish shipping and oil giant, Moller-Maersk, reported cyber attacks could have a negative impact on its third-quarter results. The global cyber attack, which chiefly impacted the Maersk line in June, was estimated to hinder profits through September by around $200 to $300 million. Its shares recovered from earlier losses to close 2.3 percent higher.

In the U.S. markets were on a higher note as investors waited for minutes from the central bank. Expectations are that the Fed will raise interest rates in September. The sentiment puts the U.S. dollar on track to post its second best week so far this year.

Geopolitics in focus

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had reportedly delayed a decision to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam on Tuesday, as Washington insisted any dialogue between the two nations would be up to Kim.

Back in Europe, the British government said Wednesday it does not wish to have any border posts between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, according to a new position paper on Brexit. The paper suggested the European Union shared similar views yet Brexit critics argued the U.K.'s proposals lacked credible detail.

On the data front, there were further signs of strength in the euro zone's economy on Wednesday. On an annual basis. the region's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.2 percent in the second quarter. The figure was slightly stronger-than-expected.

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