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European Markets Finish Little Changed In Lackluster Trading

The European markets remained stuck in a sideways pattern throughout Friday's session. Despite the lackluster trading action, the majority of the markets ended the day with slight gains.

Traders were encouraged by reports that another round of talks between the United States and China could take place in the near future.

Concerns about emerging markets also eased somewhat after Turkey's central bank raised its key interest rate sharply in a dramatic bid to control rocketing inflation and prevent a currency crisis.

The Bank of France on Friday cut its economic growth forecast for this year through 2020 amid the less dynamic and more uncertain external situation.

GDP growth would be 1.6 percent this year, next year and in 2020, the bank said.

Previously, the bank projected 1.8 percent growth for this year and 1.7 percent expansion in 2019.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.36 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone blue chip stocks increased 0.33 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.26 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed 0.57 percent and the CAC of France rose 0.46 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.31 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.11 percent.

In London, Investec soared 8.36 percent after announcing that it will spin off its asset management business.

Close Brothers Group rallied 1.89 percent. The merchant banking group has unveiled plans to sell Close Brothers Retail Finance to Swedish payment solutions group Klarna Bank AB for an undisclosed amount.

SThree, a specialist STEM staffing business, jumped 6.38 percent after its third-quarter group gross profit increased 13 percent from last year.

Low-cost airline Ryanair advanced 1.19 percent after it reached agreement with Italian unions on outline terms of a Collective Labour Agreement.

Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey rose 0.09 percent and rival Barratt Developments declined 0.7 percent after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned of sharp house price falls in the event of a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

The euro area trade surplus declined to the lowest level in four years in July, figures from Eurostat showed Friday. The trade surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted EUR 12.76 billion from EUR 16.47 billion in June. This was the lowest since June 2014, when the surplus totaled EUR 12.22 billion.

Eurozone's hourly labor cost increased at a slightly faster pace in the second quarter, data from Eurostat showed Friday. Hourly labor cost advanced 2.2 percent from previous year following a 2.1 percent rise in the first quarter.

China's industrial production and retail sales growth improved in August, while investment growth slowed down, indicating the weakness in the economic momentum.

Industrial production climbed 6.1 percent year-on-year in August, in line with expectations, but slightly faster than the 6 percent increase seen in July, data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed Friday.

Retail sales growth improved to 9 percent in August from 8.8 percent in July. The rate was expected to remain unchanged at 8.8 percent.

Partly reflecting a drop in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing retail sales in the U.S. increased by much less than expected in the month of August.

The Commerce Department said retail sales inched up by 0.1 percent in August after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.7 percent in July. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.5 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Import prices in the U.S. fell by much more than expected in the month of August, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The Labor Department said import prices dropped by 0.6 percent in August after edging down by a revised 0.1 percent in July.

Economists had expected import prices to dip by 0.2 percent compared to the unchanged reading originally reported for the previous month.

The report also said export prices slipped by 0.1 percent in August after falling by 0.5 percent in July. Export prices had been expected to come in unchanged.

A report released by the Federal Reserve on Friday showed U.S. industrial production rose by slightly more than expected in the month of August. The Fed said industrial production climbed by 0.4 percent in August, matching the upwardly revised increase in July.

Economists had expected production to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Business inventories in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of July, the Commerce Department revealed in a report released on Friday. The Commerce Department said business inventories climbed by 0.6 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June.

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has improved by much more than anticipated in the month of September, according to a report released by the University of Michigan on Friday. The report said the consumer sentiment index jumped to 100.8 in September from 96.2 in August. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 96.6.

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