LONDON – European stocks closed higher on Wednesday as fresh data showed an improving economic outlook in the euro zone The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended the session up 0.8%, with basic resources adding 2.3% to lead gains while travel and leisure stocks bucked the upward trend to slump 1.5% on lingering fears over the fast-spreading Covid delta variant The European Commission hiked its growth forecasts for the euro area on Wednesday, now projecting a 4.8% GDP growth rate this year and 4.5% for 2022. The EU's executive arm had previously expected a 4.3% growth rate for the 19-member bloc in 2021, followed by 4.4% in 2022. Some investors worry the economy might be approaching its peak markets and that a correction could be on the way. In addition to complacency in the market, the combination of profit-margin pressures, inflation fears, Fed tapering and possible higher taxes could contribute to an eventual drawdown, market strategists say.Back in Europe, Royal Dutch Shell announced Wednesday that it will boost shareholder returns through share buybacks and dividends sooner than anticipated after a steep rise in oil and gas prices, which helped the Anglo-Dutch energy giant cut its debt. Shares were down slightly. Crude prices were lower Wednesday, continuing a wild week for the oil market. The volatility follows an indefinite postponement of talks between OPEC and its oil-producing allies after the group failed to reach an agreement on its output policy for August and beyond. rights to show Premier League games in the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from 2022 to 2028. British money transfer start-up Wise climbed 10% from its opening price in a solid direct listing on the London Stock Exchange Wednesday, which valued the company at £ 8 billion ($ 11 billion). Wise's debut was seen as a victory for London, which is aiming to become a top global tech hub after Brexit.At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, French train manufacturer Alstom fell 5.4%, continuing its decline after warning earlier in the week of a hit to cash flow.Enjoyed this article? For exclusive stock picks, investment ideas and CNBC global livestreamSign up for CNBC ProStart your free trial now- CNBC's Ryan Browne and Tanaya Macheel contributed reporting to this story.
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