Europe shares close higher after euro zone exits recession

European shares closed higher on Wednesday after euro zone growth data beat expectations. However, gains were kept in check by U.K. stocks, which closed lower after the release of the latest Bank of England (BoE) minutes.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed up 0.3 percent at 1,240.53 points, after gross domestic product (GDP) data for the euro zone showed the bloc had climbed out of recession, posting second-quarter growth of 0.3 percent (quarter-on quarter). This beat analysts' estimates in a Reuters poll of 0.2 percent.

French and German GDP numbers beat forecasts: France's growth data came in with a figure of 0.5 percent, beating estimates of 0.2 percent. Germany posted 0.7 percent growth in the second quarter; expectations were for 0.6 percent in a Reuters poll.

France's CAC 40 index outperformed other major European markets, with a 0.6 percent rise at the close that put the index at a 2-year high. The German DAX provisionally closed up 0.2 percent.

(Read More: Euro zone growth beats forecasts, exits recession)

However, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 closed down roughly 0.2 percent, after the Bank of England announced that last week's decision to offer forward guidance wasn't unanimous. Eight members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted in favor of tying a potential interest rate hike to the unemployment rate. However, one member dissented, hoping for a shorter time frame before higher inflation could trigger a rates hike.

(Read More: BoE split on guidance as unemployment holds steady)

"The fact that the minutes of this month's MPC meeting show that one member (Martin Weale) voted against the decision to implement forward guidance will hardly help to reassure the markets about how firm the MPC's commitment is," Vicky Redwood, chief U.K. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

(Read More: Why UK jobs data will cast 'unprecedented' focus on Carney)

Across the pond, U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, as a lackluster August continued under a cloud of worry that the Federal Reserve will be toning down its stimulus program soon.

In stocks news, shares of U.K. bank Barclays closed up around 0.64 percent after it announced on Wednesday that Group Finance Director Chris Lucas will be stepping down due to ill health. Peter Estlin, group financial controller, will cover for him until October, when new CFO Tushar Morzariacc arrives.

However, the FTSE 100 was weighed down by Kazakh miner ENRC, which closed down around 3.04 percent, after announcing a steeper-than-expected drop in first-half profit.

A German court cast doubt on Liberty Global's 3 billion euro ($4 billion) purchase of KabelBW, after reversing a 2011 antitrust approval. Liberty Global's shares closed higher, up around 5.74 percent, while Kabel Dt N closed down 0.53 percent.

Shares of offshore engineering firm Subsea 7 rose to the top of the pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index with a gain of around 8.52 percent at the close, after its second-quarter results beat expectations.

Shares of Rentokil also received a bounce, closing up roughly 6.14 percent, after the firm reported an acceleration in profit growth in its first half.

Shares of utilities firm RWE closed down 4.49 percent after results met market expectations, but the firm warned of plunging wholesale power prices.

Shares of Switzerland-based Swiss Life Holding provisionally closed up 5.26 percent after first half profits managed to beat estimates.

Portugal Telecom sank to the bottom of the Euro Stoxx 600, despite posting results that were better-than-expectations. The firm said sales remained downbeat in its domestic market, while its Brazilian market had been hit by a weaker currency. Shares closed down roughly 7.28 percent; the European telecoms sector index fell 0.5 percent.

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