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European Markets Finish Little Changed Due To Weak Data

The European markets fluctuated between small gains and losses throughout Friday's session and ended the day little changed overall. Weak economic data from Germany, France and the U.K. weighed on investor sentiment at the end of the trading week.

President Donald Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports Thursday, but exempted Canada and Mexico. Trump has also agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May.

The closely watched U.S. jobs report showed much stronger than expected employment growth in February, although the report also showed a slowdown in the pace of wage growth.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.43 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.21 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.35 percent.

The DAX of Germany dropped 0.07 percent, but the CAC 40 of France rose 0.39 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.30 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.40 percent.

In Paris, geoscience company CGG jumped 4.73 percent after its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed from last year.

Media group Lagardere plunged 7.32 percent after posting disappointing annual results.

In London, Inmarsat tumbled 6.83 percent. The satellite company cut dividend after its fourth-quarter profit after tax plunged 51.3 percent to $32.7 million from last year's $67.1 million.

GKN advanced 3.39 percent after it agreed to combine its Driveline division with Dana Inc.

Germany's industrial production dropped unexpectedly in January, figures from Destatis revealed Friday. Industrial output fell 0.1 percent month-on-month in January, confounding expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent. Nonetheless, the pace of decline was slower than the revised 0.5 percent fall logged in December.

Germany's exports as well as imports declined in January from the previous month, Destatis reported Friday.

Exports decreased 0.5 percent on a monthly basis after staying flat in December. Shipments were expected to gain 0.3 percent.

Similarly, imports fell 0.5 percent in contrast to December's 1.1 percent increase. Economists had forecast a 0.2 percent drop in January.

Consequently, the trade surplus remained unchanged at a seasonally adjusted EUR 21.3 billion.

France's industrial production declined more than expected in January, figures from the statistical office Insee showed Friday. Industrial production fell 2 percent in January from December, when it climbed 0.2 percent. Production was expected to drop 0.3 percent.

UK industrial production rebounded in January on oil and gas extraction, while construction output contracted notably, official data showed Friday. Industrial output grew 1.3 percent month-on-month in January, offsetting December's 1.3 percent decrease, the Office for National Statistics reported.

A similar faster growth was last seen in December 2016. Output was forecast to grow 1.5 percent in January.

The UK visible trade deficit increased as the pace of growth in imports exceeded exports growth in January, the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. The visible trade gap widened to GBP 12.32 billion in January from GBP 11.77 billion in the previous month. The shortfall was seen at GBP 11.9 billion.

China's inflation rose sharply to the highest level in more than four years in February driven by a rebound in food prices. Meanwhile, producer price inflation slowed to a 15-month low.

Inflation rose to 2.9 percent in February from 1.5 percent in January, the National Bureau of Statistics reported Friday. This was the highest since November 2013. The increase in inflation was largely caused by the timing of the lunar new year holiday.

The inflation rate was forecast to rise moderately to 2.4 percent.

Job growth in the U.S. saw a significant acceleration in the month of February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, although the report also showed a slowdown in the pace of wage growth.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 239,000 jobs in January. Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs, matching the increase originally reported for the previous month.

Despite the substantial job growth, the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in February. The unemployment rate had been expected to dip to 4.0 percent.

Wholesale inventories in the U.S. increased by slightly more than expected in the month of January, a report from the Commerce Department revealed on Friday. The Commerce Department said wholesale inventories climbed by 0.8 percent in January after rising by an upwardly revised 0.7 percent in December.

Economists had expected inventories to rise by 0.7 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

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