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European Shares Seen Flat After Recent Gains

European shares are seen opening largely unchanged on Friday, as investors pause after recent gains, awaiting fresh triggers for further directional moves. Asian markets are swinging between gains and losses and the U.S. dollar consolidated its recent gains, while crude prices are edging higher after a White House spokesman denied any move for a joint strategic oil reserve release by the U.S. and U.K.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund announced that it has approved a EUR 28 billion ($36.49 billion) loan for Greece despite doubts raised by some members about the ability of the eurozone nation to implement a four-year program that includes stringent austerity measures.

The IMF said in a brief statement that it will immediately disburse EUR1.65 billion ($2.15 billion) of these funds to Greece as part of the debt-stricken country's second bailout aimed at keeping Athens funded until 2014.

In economic releases, an indicator of British households' views of residential property prices deteriorated for the twenty-first consecutive month in March, data from a survey by Knight Frank and Markit Economics showed. The house price sentiment index came in at 46.6 in March, with the number of households who reported decrease in house prices outnumbering those who reported increase.

In corporate news, Italian energy company Eni SpA detailed a new strategic plan to invest 59.6 billion euros through its plan period spanning 2012-2015.

French lender Credit Agricole SA said its first-quarter results would benefit from a gain that would more than compensate for its Greece-related provisions.

German carrier Air Berlin said it is looking at the future more positively after a poor 2011.

Germany's Deutsche Bank AG intends to propose Stuart Lewis as chief risk officer at a meeting of the supervisory board to be held later today, reports suggest.

European shares ended a choppy session modestly higher on Thursday, as the release of better than expected U.S. economic data in the afternoon offered some support. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks rose 0.7 percent and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, edged up 0.2 percent.

Around Europe, the German DAX gained 0.9 percent, France's CAC 40 added 0.4 percent and the SMI of Switzerland ended up half a percent while weak energy stocks dragged the U.K.'s FTSE 100 down about 0.1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher overnight as traders reacted positively to some upbeat economic data on regional manufacturing activity and weekly jobless claims. The Dow rose 0.4 percent to a fresh four-year high, the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained half a percent to set an eleven-year closing high and the S&P 500 advanced 0.6 percent to close above the 1,400-mark for the fist time since the financial crisis.

by RTT Staff Writer

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