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European Shares Hold Steady Ahead Of US Bank Earnings


European stocks held steady near one-month highs on Friday as geopolitical worries faded and the dollar index rose on hopes for improved corporate earnings ahead of reports from JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and Wells Fargo & Co.

On the economic front, the euro area trade surplus increased in February as the decline in imports was bigger than the fall in exports, Eurostat reported. Exports fell 2.3 percent in February from January. At the same time, imports declined 3.1 percent.

Separately, German consumer price inflation accelerated in March, as initially estimated, final data from Destatis showed.

Inflation rose to 1.6 percent from 1.4 percent in February. The rate came in line with the flash estimate published on March 29.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.2 percent at 379.61 in late opening deals after rising 0.7 percent on Thursday as investors cheered merger and acquisition headlines. The index remained on track for its third straight week of gains.

The German DAX was rising 0.4 percent and France's CAC 40 index was gaining 0.2 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was little changed with a negative bias.

Pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso rallied 3.2 percent after its first-quarter profit beat forecasts.

Klepierre shares rallied 3.7 percent in Paris. The real estate investment trust has decided to drop a bid for U.K. mall owner Hammerson.

German automaker Volkswagen rose half a percent after appointing Herbert Diess as its new CEO.

ArcelorMittal advanced 1.3 percent. The steelmaker said it had submitted proposed divestment package to European Commission as part of the ongoing European Commission review into its acquisition of Ilva.

BT shares advanced 1.2 percent in London. According to the Financial Times, the BT Pension Scheme is selling its majority stake in asset manager Hermes.

Micro Focus jumped 5.4 percent on a Bloomberg report that hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a stake in the software firm.

Sage Group fell more than 12 percent as its first-half organic revenue growth came in below expectations.

Hammerson shares plunged 11 percent after French shopping centre company Klépierre said it does not intend to make a formal offer for the U.K. mall owner.

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