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European Shares Mixed As French Election Draws Near

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European stocks were mixed on Friday as uncertainty prevailed ahead of this weekend's French presidential election and data showed U.K. retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years during the first three months of 2017, a worrying sign for the economy amid rising prices since last year's Brexit vote.

Eurozone private sector growth hit a fresh six-year high in April, survey results from IHS Markit showed today, helping limit regional losses to some extent. The flash composite output index rose unexpectedly to 56.7 from 56.4 in March as growth accelerated in both manufacturing and services.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was virtually unchanged at 378.11 in late opening deals after two days of gains.

The German DAX was moving up 0.1 percent, while France's CAC 40 index was declining 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was down 0.1 percent.

Danone dropped over 2 percent after the French dairy giant reported muted growth in its underlying sales in the first quarter of the year.

Reckitt Benckiser Group fell 1.5 percent in London. The consumer products group delivered flat sales on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, reflecting challenging market conditions in Europe and North America.

WS Atkins shares soared 5 percent after Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group agreed to acquire the British engineering giant for C$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion).

Resources stocks were mostly higher as metals prices rose. Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore rallied 1-3 percent.

Software AG shares jumped over 7 percent after the German company reported a smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly core profit and confirmed its 2017 outlook.

by RTT Staff Writer

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