BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - The European markets fluctuated between small gains and losses over the course of Friday's session, but the majority managed to end the day with slight increases. A surge in Chinese imports provided a boost to mining stocks at the end of the trading week. Shares of Bayer were also in focus after it sold off some of its operations as part of its continuing efforts to gain approval for its proposed acquisition of Monsanto.
While European stocks were mixed for much of Friday's session, the early gains on Wall Street helped to push them higher in late trade. The U.S. markets climbed following the release of some upbeat economic data, including a surge in retail sales.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.36 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks decreased 0.01 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.43 percent.
The DAX of Germany climbed 0.07 percent, but the CAC 40 of France fell 0.17 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.28 percent, but the SMI of Switzerland finished higher by 0.15 percent.
In Frankfurt, BASF has signed an agreement to acquire significant parts of seed and non-selective herbicide businesses of Bayer AG. The all-cash purchase price is 5.9 billion euros. For Bayer, the divestment is part of its planned acquisition of Monsanto. BASF slid 0.34 percent, while Bayer rose 1.20 percent.
In Paris, Airbus fell 1.23 percent after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order requiring airlines to inspect engines on roughly 120 Airbus A380 superjumbo jets world-wide.
In London, GKN plc plunged 9.84 percent after the engineering business reported weak margin for its third quarter, despite good organic sales growth. The company now expects management profit before tax for fiscal 2017 to be slightly above 2016.
Ashmore Group surged 7.67 percent after the specialist Emerging Markets asset manager reported growth in first-quarter assets under management.
Shares of Investment management firm MAN Group plc increased 3.61 percent on higher funds under management.
Mining stocks turned in a solid performance, thanks to the trade data released by China this morning. BHP Billiton climbed 1.64 percent, Rio Tinto rose 3 percent and Glencore advanced 2.69 percent.
Germany's inflation held steady, as initially estimated, in September, final data from Destatis showed Friday. Consumer prices advanced 1.8 percent year-on-year in September, the same rate as seen in August. The rate also matched the estimate published on September 28.
China's exports expanded at a slower than expected pace but remained robust in September. At the same time, imports growth exceeded expectations on improving domestic demand.
Exports climbed 8.1 percent year-over-year in September, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Friday. Economists had forecast exports to climb 10.0 percent, following August's 5.5 percent increase.
At the same time, imports surged 18.7 percent in September from a year ago, faster than the expected growth of 15.0 percent.
As result, the trade surplus totaled $28.47 billion in September versus the expected level of $38.0 billion.
With gasoline prices showing a substantial increase, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing a significant jump in retail sales in the U.S. in the month of September. The Commerce Department said retail sales surged up by 1.6 percent in September after edging down by a revised 0.1 percent in August.
Economists had expected retail sales to spike by 1.7 percent compared to the 0.2 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.
Consumer prices in the U.S. increased by slightly less than expected in the month of September, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday. The Labor Department said its consumer price index climbed by 0.5 percent in September after rising by 0.4 percent in August. Economists had expected prices to increase by 0.6 percent.
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has unexpectedly seen a significant increase in the month of October, according to a report released by the University of Michigan on Friday. The report said the consumer sentiment index jumped to 101.1 in October after dipping to 95.1 in September. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 95.0.
Business inventories in the U.S. rose in line with economist estimates in the month of August, the Commerce Department revealed in a report on Friday. The Commerce Department said business inventories climbed by 0.7 percent in August after rising by an upwardly revised 0.3 percent in July.
Economists had expected inventories to increase by 0.7 percent compared to the 0.2 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.
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