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The Deal: Europe, Asia Stocks Flat Ahead of German Elections

Stocks in this article: RBS

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European and Asian markets were flat on Friday ahead of federal elections Sunday in Germany, Europe's largest economy.

In the U.K., Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) announced that it had raised about 630 million pounds ($1 billion) through a further selldown of a stake in Direct Line Insurance Group, the country's largest home and car insurer. The lender now owns about 28.5% of the company after selling about 300 million shares at 210 pence apiece to institutional investors.

Shares in Direct Line Insurance fell 5.40 pence, or 2.48%, to 212.60 pence, while shares in Royal Bank of Scotland shed 4.10 pence, or 1.11%, to 364.90 pence.

The U.K.'s benchmark FTSE 100 was little changed, down 5.48, or 0.08%, at 6,619.91.

In Germany, the DAX was almost flat, down 6.81, or 0.08%, at 8.687.37, on the last trading day before Sunday's national elections in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is vying for a third term against Peer Steinbrück of the center-left Social Democrats.

A new national opinion poll released Friday in Germany showed the Social Democrats advancing 1 percentage point to 28%, still 10 points behind Merkel's Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party. She may be forced to form a government with a party other than the current junior coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats, who appear to be struggling to reach the 5% threshold needed to enter parliament

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 385.06, or 1.67%, to 23,502.51, while the Nikkei fell 23.76, or 0.16%, to 14,742.42.

Standard & Poor's futures shed 0.20 to 1,717.20.

--Written by Renee Cordes

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