LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stock indices were mixed heading into the weekend after a closely watched gauge of German business sentiment fell short of expectations, feeding hopes that the eurozone will receive a monetary fillip.
The Ifo institute's index of German business confidence in May declined from April to its lowest point so far this year.
The Munich organization surveys 7,000 company executives, asking them about their assessment of the current situation and their outlook.
The data weighed on the euro and fed growing expectations the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy next month, something ECB President Mario Draghi has said he's willing to do.Meanwhile, confirmation of healthy German GDP figures highlighted the complexity of forging a "one-size fits all" policy for the whole of the eurozone. The German economy grew at a 2.5% annual pace in the first quarter and was up 0.8% quarter on quarter. The DAX in Frankfurt climbed 0.24% to 9,744.64 and in Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.10% at 4,482.51. In London, the FTSE 100 fell 0.24% to 6,803.87. In London, AstraZeneca (AZN - Get Report) fell despite reports BlackRock, its largest shareholder, has urged the U.K.'s second-largest drugmaker to reopen talks with Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) after a mandatory three-month cooling off period. AstraZeneca rejected Pfizer's thrice-sweetened 69.4 billion pounds ($117 billion) bid on Monday and the New York company has until 5 p.m. on Monday, May 26 -- a public holiday in Britain -- to either make a firm bid or retreat. It has already said it won't go hostile and that its latest 5,500 pence-per-share bid is its final one. Manufacturing conglomerate Smiths fell after it said nine-month revenue declined year-on-year and warned that full-year profit at its Smiths Detection unit would be 25 million pounds lower than previous expectations. But Saga, a private equity-backed provider of financial, travel and other services to the over 50s, rose on its debut after the company priced its IPO at the bottom of an already-lowered range to attain a market value of 2.1 billion pounds. Barclays (BCS) shrugged off a 26 million pounds fine from the Financial Conduct Authority for manipulating the price of gold. The sanction is a blow to CEO Antony Jenkins' efforts to clean up the bank. In Paris, Alstom slipped 1.2% as General Electric (GE) extended the deadline for its 11.4 billioneuros ($15.6 billion) bid for its power operations to June 23 from June 2 to win round the French government. In Milan, Telecom Italia fell more than 1% on news shareholders Assicurazioni Generali SpA and Mediobanca SpA are both planning to sell their stakes next month. In Hong Kong, developer Greentown China Holdings closed up 6.6% after shareholders struck a deal to sell a combined 24.3% to homebuilder Sunac China Holdings, whose backers include include Bain Capital LLC. Sunac shares gained 8.2%. The Hang Seng edged up 0.05% to 22,965.86. In Tokyo the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.87% at 14,462.17. Thailand's SET index lost 0.6% after Thursday's military coup. It was one of only five Asian indices to decline on Friday.
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