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EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Lose Steam After Consumer Data


By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets erased earlier gains in the afternoon on Friday and closed mostly lower after euro-zone consumer confidence unexpectedly weakened in June. U.K.'sFTSE 100 advanced as Shire shares rallied after a takeover rebuff.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed marginally lower at 348.09 and ended the week up 0.3%.

Lending support to the benchmark, shares of Shire PLC rallied 17% after the U.K. drug maker rebuffed a 27.2-billion- pound ($46.35 billion) takeover bid from U.S. rival AbbVie Inc. (ABBV), citing undervaluation of the company. AbbVie said discussions were no longer ongoing and that there could be no certainty that any firm offer would be made.

Alstom SA picked up 1.1% after Siemens AG (SIEGY) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. sweetened their offer for Alstom's energy business. General Electric Co. (GE) on Thursday improved its bid for the Alstom unit, offering new assurances of French control.

The broader sentiment in Europe soured in the afternoon when the European Commissions "flash" consumer-confidence index unexpectedly fell back in June. The gauge slipped to -7.4 after rising to a more-than six-year high of -7.1 in May, missing forecasts of a -6.9 reading.

Howard Archer, chief U.K. and European economist at IHS Global Insight said in a note that the dip in June partly was due to several countries' relatively disappointing economic growth news for the first quarter.

"While any dip in confidence is unwelcome, June's still relatively elevated level maintains hopes that euro-zone consumer spending will firm over the coming months and help the recovery to gradually gain traction," he said.

Germany's DAX 30 index ended 0.2% lower at 9,987.24, trimming its weekly gain to 0.8%. France's CAC 40 index dropped 0.5% to 4,541.34, sending it slightly lower for the week.

The U.K.'sFTSE 100 index , however, gained 0.3% to 6,825.20, partly lifted by the rally in Shire shares. The benchmark ended the week 0.7% higher.

Outside the main index in London, shares of TSB Banking Group PLC soared 12% on its debut trading day. The IPO was priced at GBP2.60 a share, but the strong demand sent the company closing at GBP2.90.

The move took Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG) one step closer to selling off the whole TSB unit as part of a condition of its government bailout. The lender must divest its remaining shares in TSB by the end of next year.

Lloyds listed 175 million shares in TSB, or 35% of the business, raising GBP455 million and selling a bigger stake than initially planned. Lloyds shares dropped 0.9%.

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