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European Stocks Recover After Early Weakness, Close On Mixed Note

European stocks turned in a mixed performance on Friday as investors largely refrained from making significant moves amid worries about U.S.-China tensions.

Continued worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak weighed as well.

Markets got some support after the minutes of the European Central Bank's April meeting showed the bank was "fully prepared" to provide even more stimulus as soon as June, in an attempt to support the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged down 0.03%. Among the major indices in Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.37%, France's CAC 40 closed 0.02% down and Germany's DAX edged up 0.07%. Switzerland's SMI shed 1.04%.

Among other markets in Europe, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey closed higher.

Finland, Norway, Poland and Russia moved up, while Greece, Spain and Sweden ended flat.

In Germany, Lufthansa and Deutsche Post were among the notable losers. Munich RE, Vonovia, Continental, Fresenius Medical Care and Infineon Technologies gained 1 to 1.5%.

In the French market, Legrand, Bouygues and Carrefour gained 3 to 3.3%. Saint Gobain ended nearly 3% up, while Vivendi, Worldline, Atos, Capgemini, Dassault Systemes, Schneider Electric, Publicis Groupe and Peugeot gained 1.6 to 2.6%.

On the other hand, Renault, Kering, Safran, ArcelorMittal and Technip lost 1.9 to 2.6%.

In the U.K. market, Prudential shares plunged more than 9% and IAG declined almost 7%. HSBC Holdings, United Utilities, Severn Trent, EasyJet, Centrica and National Grid lost 3 to 5%.

Whitbread, Auto Trader Group, Burberry Group, Intercontinental, 3i Group and Fresnillo ended stronger by 2.4 to 5.6%.

In economic news, data published by the Office for National Statistics showed the stimulus measures taken by the British government to shield the economy from the downturn posed by the coronavirus, or Covid-19, have pushed the budget deficit to a record high in April.

Another report from the ONS showed that high street sales declined at a record pace in April as many stores were temporarily closed to contain the spread of coronavirus, or Covid-19.

Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks was GBP 62.1 billion in April, which was GBP 51.1 billion more than in the same period last year. This was the highest borrowing in any month since records began in 1993.

The ONS said the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant impact on the public sector finances and these are initial estimates.

Borrowing in the latest financial year ended March 2020 was estimated to have increased by GBP 22.5 billion from last year to GBP 62.7 billion.

According to another data from the same agency, retail sales volume in UK declined 18.1% in April. That was the biggest monthly fall on record. Economists had forecast sales to decrease 16% after falling 5.2% in March.

Excluding auto fuel, retail sales were down 15.2% on month in April, bigger than the economists' forecast of 15% and a 3.8% decrease seen in March.

On a yearly basis, retail sales volume fell 22.6% versus March's 5.8% decrease and economists' forecast of 22.2%.

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