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Europe closes in positive territory amid earnings, jump in commodities

  • The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the session higher, up 0.29 percent provisionally, while sectors showed a mixed picture by the close.
  • Polymetal International soared to the top of the European benchmark after reporting a 19 percent rise in year-on-year revenue for the first-quarter.
  • On the data front, U.K. and euro zone inflation numbers were cooler than expected.

European equities finished in the black on Wednesday, as a strong boost in commodity stocks boosted investor sentiment.

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The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the session higher, up 0.29 percent provisionally, while sectors showed a mixed picture by the close.

The FTSE 100 soared 1.26 percent, boosted by commodities and a drop in sterling, while the French CAC 40 popped 0.5 percent and Germany's DAX finished 0.04 percent, capped by weakness in the auto sector.

Markets in the region seemed to receive some late support late from a slightly positive session on Wall Street, where investors were digesting the latest financial results from major firms. Markets in Asia finished higher.

Commodities speed ahead

Basic resources stocks soared ahead of fellow industries on Wednesday, finishing trade up 4.37 percent as a sector. Polymetal International flew to the top of the European benchmark, jumping 12 percent, after reporting a 19 percent rise in year-on-year revenue for the first-quarter. The Russian precious metals mining firm said production of gold equivalent rose 5 percent to 295,000 ounces.

London-listed miners received a boost following Polymetal's news, while metal prices soared with nickel, zinc, and copper posting sharp gains.

Meanwhile, Europe's autos stocks were the worst performers on Wednesday, finishing down 1 percent overall, amid weaker-than-expected sales data. European car registrations fell 5.2 percent, according to data published by the auto industry association ACEA. Nissan, Ford and Fiat Chrysler were reported to have led the losses during the first three months of the year.

Sticking with the sector, Continental AG slumped 4 percent, after the group stated that it had lowered its full-year outlook, revealing that inventory valuation and exchange rate effects would have a negative hit to earnings in the first half of the year.

Vopak surged 6.85 percent after the Dutch oil and chemical storage firm said it was well-placed to significantly improve its core earnings in 2019. The company said this upwardly revised forecast was largely due to its expansion program.

Elsewhere, shares of energy firm Total popped 1.6 percent, after it agreed to buy competitor Direct Energie on Wednesday, in a transaction valued at 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion). The move could give the firm more ammunition to compete with French energy provider EDF.

Oil and gas was the second top performing sector, jumping 1.57 percent, with crude futures posting sharp gains, supported by government data that showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week and as the market continued to worry about supply disruptions.

Britain's CYBG was the STOXX 600's worst performer, slipping 5 percent, after the group announced that it had increased provisions, for repaying customers who've been mis-sold PPI, by up to £350 million ($498 million).

Economic data

Investor confidence in the global economy appeared to deteriorate slightly after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Tuesday that medium-term risks were tilted towards the downside. The Washington D.C.-based institute cited financial vulnerabilities, geopolitical tensions and trade tariffs as potential headwinds over the coming months. However, the IMF left its worldwide growth forecasts unchanged for 2018 and 2019.

On the data front, U.K. and euro zone inflation numbers were cooler than expected. Annual consumer prices rose just 2.5 percent in March, down from 2.7 percent in February, marking a one-year low.

The euro area figure on the other hand came in at 1.3 percent, an increase from the previous month, but lower than estimates.

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