Most European benchmarks pushed higher Wednesday as investors reacted to a French election debate that was seen as yielding a victory for centrist and left-leaning candidates.

The debate, which took place on Tuesday night, helped to put both uninspiring economic data and concerns over President Donald Trump's forthcoming meeting with China's president into the shade for the session.

The FTSE 100 was 0.41% higher a short time before the close, quoted at 7,350, while the mid market FTSE 250 index was up 0.27% to 19,072.

In Paris the CAC 40 index rose by 0.10% to 5,104 but in Germany the DAX index slipped 0.21% to 12,254.

In southern Europe Madrid's IBEX 35 index had gained 0.53% by the final hour of trading, while Milan's FTSE MIB was up 0.15%.

In individual stocks, DCC (DCCPY) , an international business support services firm, was among the top risers on the FTSE 100 in London.

Its stock rose by nearly 2% after the company said it has sold its environmental division to a private equity firm, Exponent, for more than £200 million ($250 million). It bought Royal Dutch Shell's (undefined) liquefied petroleum business in Hong Kong for £120 million, with part of the proceeds from the asset sale.

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BHP (BHP) - Get BHP Group Ltd Sponsored ADR Report was also featured on the leaderboard for the session as its shares reacted to stronger commodity prices. The mining company also declared force majeure at its coking coal production facility in Australia's Bowen Basin, following disruption brought about cyclone Debbie.

In Frankfurt, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the Commerzbank (CRZBY) works council has been informed of 7,800 forthcoming employee redundancies in the German division.

The development suggests that management is pushing ahead with a previously announced plan to eliminate some 9,600 jobs across the group, which helped push the lender to the top of the DAX with a 3.8% gain on Wednesday just hours before the close.

That said, bank stocks rebounded broadly across Europe Wednesday, following several days of declines.

Deutsche Bank (DB) - Get Deutsche Bank AG Report was also a top riser on the DAX after the German press reported that it has placed more than 80% of the rights in its 8 billion capital increase with existing investors, meaning that only 20% will be sold on the market. The stock was up by 1.5% shortly before the close.

Europe-wide, auto stocks continued to decline following a series of registration and sales numbers that left investors underwhelmed with the performance from European firms.

On Wednesday, industry data from the U.K. showed British car sales reaching a record level during March, although the top spot in the league table was claimed by Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report , which sold more than twice the number of cars than its nearest competing brand - that of fellow U.S. manufacturer GM (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report .

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) - Get Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. Report was the top faller in the car space, with a loss of nearly 1.4%, while Daimler (DDAIF) and BMW (BMWYY) shed nearly 1% each.

In France, consulting service CAPGemini (CGEMY) and Credit Agricole (CRARY) were among the biggest gainers for the session, adding more than 1% each, although the No. 1 spot went to oil and gas services firm Technip (TKPPY) .