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European markets close higher as North Korea jitters subside; BioMerieux up 8%

Key Points
  • BioMerieux jumped to the top of the European benchmark, up over 8 percent, following a solid set of results
  • The euro moved slightly lower against the dollar on Wednesday morning, trading at $1.19. The currency had broken above the $1.20 point on geopolitical concerns
  • On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a statement saying that "all options are on the table" when it comes to responding to North Korea's recent missile launch

European markets closed higher Wednesday as investors' concerns over North Korea appeared to ease off.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the day up 0.76 percent, showing signs of recovery after hitting a six-month low in the previous session. Wall Street also traded in the black, having pared losses from Tuesday deals.

Media stocks, which had been one of the worst performing sectors on Tuesday, moved higher Wednesday, with broadcaster ITV up 2.5 percent. Banking stocks, too, moved higher, supported by some upgrades in the sector. Swedbank rose 2.4 percent after JPMorgan upgraded its recommendation on the Swedish lender.

Retail stocks ended the day up 1.1 percent, led by gains for supermarkets Ocado and Sainsbury's, which were up 4.2 percent and 2.2 percent respectively.

Looking at individual performances, RTL Group initially jumped to the top of the European benchmark, up by nearly 6 percent, after its first-half results, but later dipped lower to close the day up 2.1 percent. The broadcast group surprised analysts despite admitting a "challenging" advertising market.

Meanwhile, French biotech firm BioMerieux jumped over 8 percent after it increased its operating income and sales targets for this year, following a solid set of results.

Petrofac rose almost 1 percent though it cut its dividend by 42 percent as part of efforts to improve its balance sheet. These gains were later pared and it closed the day close to the bottom of the benchmark, down 2.2 percent.

Euro eases, consumer confidence figures due

The euro moved slightly lower against the dollar on Wednesday morning, trading at $1.19. The currency had broken above the $1.20 point on geopolitical concerns.

In the previous day's trade, markets worldwide became skittish on the back of news that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile over Japan, however, U.S. markets finished in the black and Asia traded mostly higher on Wednesday as nerves abated.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a statement saying that "all options are on the table" when it comes to responding to North Korea's recent missile launch.

"The world has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said in a statement.

The U.S. incumbent went on to add that "threatening and destabilizing actions" would only increase the North Korean regime's isolation both in Asia and with the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the wrath of Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt in markets worldwide, with oil prices under pressure in morning trade as flooding and storm damage continues to have an impact on U.S. refineries.

By market close, Brent traded around $51.76 a barrel, while U.S. crude last stood around $46.64.

Looking to data, economic sentiment in the euro zone rose during August, beating market expectations, boosted by an uptick in confidence from the services and industry sectors. The data from the European Commission showed that the economic sentiment index rose to 111.9 in August. A Reuters poll of economists had expected a reading of 111.3.

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