European Benchmarks Fall, But London Bucks Trend on Takeover Activity

European benchmarks fell on Friday as the so-called Trump-trade appeared to fade, but London bucked the trend among its continental cousins after drawing a boost from takeover activity and the recovery of formerly ex-dividend stocks.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.30% higher at 7,299 while the DAX in Germany was flat at 11,757 and the CAC 40 in France fell by 0.65% to 4,867.

In London, Unilever (UL) saw its stock soar by more than 13% on Friday after Kraft Heinz (HNZ) announced that it has made a comprehensive offer to the consumer goods company.

Unilever has rejected the offer and dismissed the idea of engaging in further talks. In a possible throwback to the controversial Kraft-Cadbury takeover of 2009, the U.S. suitor told investors that it looks forward to engaging further with the company and being able to agree to a deal.

The news prompted a broad rally across the consumer goods and healthcare space, sending Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY) close to the top of the FTSE 100 after the shares gained 2.8%.

Astrazeneca (AZN) also stock rose on Friday after the company said that its Lynparza drug fared well in clinical trials of its effectiveness as a breast cancer treatment.

The announcement came just a day after the FDA granted approval for Siliq, a psoriasis treatment, which triggered a $130 million payment from development partner Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) .

Elsewhere in the world, markets were weighed down by a weak banking sector, which was hit particularly hard by renewed concerns over the durability of the Trump administration.

In London, Standard Chartered (SCBFF) topped the list of fallers on the FTSE 100, after being downgraded by analysts at Credit Suisse (CS) , just one week ahead of its full-year results. The shares fell more than 4% amid broad weakness in banking stocks.

In France, Credit Agricole (CRARY) was the biggest faller on the CAC, after dropping more than 3%, followed closely by Societe Generale (SCGLY) .

In Germany, Volkswagen (VLKAY) stock fell 2.51% to the bottom of the DAX on Friday after it said that worldwide sales were hit during January by a steep fall in Chinese demand, with tax rises and a dispute with Audi dealers responsible for the slump.

Deutsche Bank (DB) and Commerzbank (CRZBY) were also plastered in red ink during the session, featuring prominently among the top fallers in Frankfurt, with losses of 2% and 1.4% respectively.

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