European markets close higher; Ryanair up nearly 7%; Spanish banks lead the sector

Key Points
  • The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.33 percent Tuesday afternoon, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory
  • Corporate earnings season continues in full swing, with several companies posting their latest figures

European stocks closed higher after a day's trading in which investors digested a fresh batch of corporate earnings and watched the political fallout of Catalonia's independence row.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed up 0.33 percent, with most sectors and major bourses in positive territory.

Travel and leisure stocks were the best performing, up 1.09 percent. Budget airline Ryanair finished the day's trading up nearly 7 percent and close to the top of the STOXX 600. The company reported an 11 percent rise in net profit for the first half of the year and said it was still on track for robust full-year results despite recent flight cancellations.

Oil and gas stocks ended the day 0.68 percent higher. Britain's oil major BP was up nearly 2 percent as the company beat analyst expectations in its third-quarter earnings report, highlighting the improving fortunes of an industry that has withstood one of the deepest downturns in a generation. The sector was led by renewable energy firm Siemens Gamesa, whose shares closed up just over 6 percent.

Catalonia crisis

Looking to European banks, the Spanish Caixabank and Banco de Sabadell were the top performers in the sector, both up over 2 percent.

Deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont spoke at a press conference in Brussels Tuesday saying that he was not trying to escape justice by leaving Spain, but that he instead wanted to "put the Catalan problem at the heart of the European Union." Spain's state prosecutor called for rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges to be brought against Catalonia's leaders.

The Spanish IBEX ended Tuesday's trading 0.74 percent higher.

French bank BNP Paribas was the worst performing European bank Tuesday, closing the day's trading down 2.67 percent. It posted forecast-beating third-quarter earnings shortly before the opening bell with net profit seeing an 8 percent rise from the same period last year. But, the lender said group revenues had fallen year-on-year.

Burberry chief designer Christopher Bailey is set to step down from the luxury goods maker in March 2018. Bailey joined the firm in 2001 and has helped the British company become a global fashion brand worth more than £8 billion in the years following. The company said he will pursue other projects next spring. Shares of Burberry finished the day down just over 1 percent.

Stateside, stocks were trading slightly on the upside after gains from Mondelez and Kellogg balanced out by a sharp loss in Under Armour shares. Weaker demand has meant that the sports clothing company has cut its full-year sales expectations, which caused shares to plummet 17.6 percent.

The was seen up 0.15 percent.

The dollar was also trading higher thanks to positive U.S. data, meaning that the greenback was on course for its best month since November 2016.

—CNBC's Holly Ellyatt contributed to this report.