) -- 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 - Get Report)
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