BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - The European markets ended Friday's session with mixed results. Investors were in a cautious mood due to the upcoming French election. Recent polls have suggested that Sunday's race is too close to call amid questions about the impact of yesterday's terrorist attack that left one French police officer dead and two other people wounded.
On the economic front, U.K. retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years during the first three months of 2017. Meanwhile, Eurozone private sector growth hit a fresh six-year high in April.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.07 percent. The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks increased 0.01 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.17 percent.
The DAX of Germany climbed 0.18 percent, but the CAC 40 of France fell 0.37 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.06 percent and the SMI of Switzerland finished lower by 0.05 percent.
In Frankfurt, Software AG jumped 8.17 percent after the company reported a smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly core profit and confirmed its 2017 outlook.
In Paris, Danone dropped 2.45 percent after the dairy giant reported muted growth in its underlying sales in the first quarter of the year.
In London, Reckitt Benckiser Group fell 0.82 percent. The consumer products group delivered flat sales on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, reflecting challenging market conditions in Europe and North America.
Restaurant Group lost 2.74 percent. The company said that Barry Nightingale, Chief Financial Officer, will step down from the board and leave the company with immediate effect.
Rio Tinto rose 1.26 percent after BNP Paribas upgraded its rating on the miner to 'Outperform' from 'Neutral.'
WS Atkins soared 6.05 percent after Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group agreed to acquire the British engineering giant for C$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion).
Eurozone private sector growth hit a fresh six-year high in April, survey results from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose unexpectedly to 56.7 in April from 56.4 in March. The latest reading was the highest since April 2011. Economists had forecast the score to remain unchanged at 56.4.
The euro area current account surplus increased to a record high in February, figures from the European Central Bank showed Friday. The current account surplus surged to a seasonally adjusted EUR 37.9 billion in February from EUR 26.1 billion in January. This was the highest surplus since the formation of the currency bloc.
Germany's private sector expanded strongly in April, despite slower rises in both manufacturing output and services activity, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index dropped to 56.3 in April from March's six-year high of 57.1.
The French private sector expanded the most in almost six years in April, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose to a 71-month high of 57.4 in April from 56.8 in March.
UK retail sales declined more than expected in March, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Friday. Retail sales including automotive fuel decreased 1.8 percent month-on-month in March, reversing a 1.7 percent rise in February. Sales were forecast to fall moderately by 0.5 percent.
British households perceived that the value of their homes increased further in April, though the rate of growth eased fractionally, survey figures from IHS Markit and Knight Frank showed Friday. The Knight Frank/Markit House Price Sentiment Index, or HPSI, dropped to 57.4 in April from 57.5 in March.
After reporting a bigger than expected drop in U.S. existing home sales in the previous month, the National Association of Realtors released a report on Friday showing that existing home sales rebounded to their highest level in ten years in March.
The report said existing home sales jumped 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.71 million in March after slumping by 3.9 percent to a downwardly revised 5.47 million February. Economists had expected existing home sales to climb by 2.2 percent to a rate of 5.60 million from the 5.48 million originally reported for the previous month.
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