For the time being, the pan-European Stoxx-600 closed 0.6 percent, with most sectors and major stock exchanges in positive territory.

European commodity stocks, with their strong exposure to China, rose nearly 2 percent, as investors increasingly hoped for a break-up of the US Sino trading bloc.

Travel and leisure was another sector that made a profit from the earnings reports. The Swedish Kindred Group recorded a record level of active customers in the fourth quarter of 2018. The shares of the Stockholm shares rose by 7.5 percent.

German lighting group Osram Licht rose to the top of the Stoxx 600 in late afternoon trade after confirming a report that it had held discussions with Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group about a possible joint takeover. Shares rose more than 14 percent.

In the meantime, ABN Amro crashed in the index down. The Dutch bank reported Wednesday's results of the fourth quarter well below expectations, as the depreciation of loans jumped. The shares of the company fell by 7 percent.

On the data front, British inflation fell to a two-year low in January, falling below the Bank of England's target. Official data showed that British consumer prices rose at an annualized rate of 1.8 percent in January after rising 2.1 percent at the end of last year.

In December, industrial production in the euro area was weaker than expected. Official estimates published Wednesday showed that capital goods production was down 0.9 percent from a month ago, down 4.2 percent from a year ago.