RTTNews - The European markets rose for the first time in three days on Wednesday, as strong earnings from companies such as E.ON, Balfour Beatty and Nobel Biocare cheered investor sentiment.

The U.S. Federal Reserve will wrap up its August meeting today, and economists don't expect any major policy changes in their post-meeting statement, though they do expect an acknowledgment of the slightly improving economy.

Economists are expecting the FOMC to hold interest rates at their low range of zero to 0.25%, and say the committee may offer an upbeat tone on the economy because of recent data that points to an improvement in the housing and manufacturing sectors.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in its report that the country's trade deficit widened to $27.0 billion in June from $26.0 billion in May. Economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase in the size of the deficit to $28.7 billion.

Meanwhile, unemployment in the U.K. increased by 220,000 to 2.435 million in the three months to June, the biggest figure since 1995, the Office for National Statistics said. The jobless rate rose to 7.8%, the highest since 1996, from 7.1% recorded in the three months to March and a notch higher than the expected rate of 7.7%.

Crude for September delivery rose $1.38 to $70.82 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the time the European markets closed, after the U.S. Commerce Department report showed that imports rose for the first time in 11 months and the International Energy Agency revised up its demand forecasts for 2009 and 2010 on an expected strong demand from Asia.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 1.06% higher at 942.06 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 0.82% to 2,334.61 points.

Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.97% to 4,716.76, while France's CAC 40 index climbed 1.48% to 3,507.24 and Germany's DAX index surged up 1.22% to 5,350.09.

E.ON, Europe's biggest utility, climbed 5.4% after the company reported higher first-half profit and said 2009 earnings may drop less than expected.

Balfour Beatty, Europe's largest builder, surged up 8.3% after the company reported a 14% rise in first-half pretax profit.

Nobel Biocare, the world's biggest maker of dental implants, jumped 14% after the company reported second quarter profit that increased 16% from last year and beat analysts' estimate.

Lloyds Banking Group, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, climbed 6.4% after the company said it would sell the bulk of its Insight Investment unit to Bank of New York Mellon for £235 million.

Heavily weighted oil stocks rallied after crude oil prices advanced. BP, Europe's biggest oil company, surged up 1.9%, while Royal/Dutch Shell, the second biggest, rose 1.5% and Total, the third biggest, climbed 2.3%.

On the other hand, Nestle, the world's biggest food company, fell 4% after the company reported its first profit decline in six years and withdrew its full year revenue outlook.

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