European stocks close slightly higher amid concerns of political turmoil in Italy

  • European traders monitored a deepening political crisis in Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy.
  • Reuters reported on Wednesday that Italian parties were seeking "a point of compromise on another name" for the position of economy minister.
  • In Germany, the consumer price inflation rate surged to 2.2 percent in May, above the European Central Bank's target of below, or close to, 2 percent.

European markets closed slightly higher Wednesday, as concerns of a political crisis in the euro zone's third-largest economy eased.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally up almost 0.3 percent, with sectors mixed and most major bourses in positive territory.

Among national indexes, Italy's FTSE MIB bounced back 2 percent higher after registering sharp losses in recent days. Italy's political woes have roiled global financial markets amid news the prospect of snap elections in Rome could be framed as a de facto referendum on the country's role in Europe.

Looking at individual stocks, Vivendi tumbled close to the bottom of the European benchmark Wednesday after the French media giant lost out on rights to broadcast domestic soccer matches. The setback was thought to highlight the lack of growth prospects for Vivendi's Canal Plus TV arm. Shares of the firm were off more than 3.6 percent on the news.

British discount retailer B&M was among Europe's top performers after reporting a 25 percent rise in full-year profit on Wednesday. Shares of the firm rose 4.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Germany's Bayer rose almost 4 percent as traders monitored news that the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the way for approval of its $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto.

Italy remains in the spotlight

On Wall Street, stocks traded higher, rebounding after a drop in the previous session due to political uncertainty surrounding Italy.

Developments in Italy remained in the spotlight Wednesday. Investors were fearful that euroskeptic parties in Rome could frame a new election as a de facto referendum on Italy's role in Europe.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Italian parties were seeking "a point of compromise on another name" for the position of economy minister, citing a source close to the Five Star Movement. Sergio Mattarella, the country's president, vetoed Five Star and Lega's pick for economy minister over the weekend.

Italy has been without a government since an inconclusive vote in early March, with the president finally nominating former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister until a snap poll is held sometime between September and spring 2019.

An auction of Italian bonds went through smoothly on Wednesday. The country sold 5.57 billion euros ($6.47 billion) in government debt.

On the data front, a euro area sentiment survey for May showed a fall to 112.5 from 112.7 in the previous month.

In Germany, the consumer price inflation rate surged to 2.2 percent in May, above the European Central Bank's target of below, or close to, 2 percent.

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