European benchmarks were broadly lower heading toward the European close Friday after a risk-off mood hung in the air across markets throughout much of the session.

Defensive shares were bid higher while oil and gas and some elements of retail hung like weights around the ankles.

The day's price action was brought on by unease over the potential for geopolitical rifts to emerge between international leaders at the G20 conference in Hamburg, as well as ongoing concerns over the outlook for European monetary policies.

London's FTSE 100 was the only major index to buck the trend, with a late-day gain of 0.16%, to 7,348.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index was down by 0.21%, at 5,142, while the DAX dropped 0.07% in Frankfurt, to 12,375. The FTSE MIB and IBEX, in Milan and Madrid, respectively, were both lower in noon trading.

In individual stocks, British Gas owner Centrica (CPYYY) proved a beneficiary of defensive price action as well as a recent government decision to all but abandon its pre-election harsh rhetoric toward the utilities sector. The shares gained close to 4% during the session.

WPP (WPPGY) , the advertising agency led by Martin Sorrell, was one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Friday as investors dumped the shares in response to concerns over the impact last week's cyber attack might have on its current quarter and after the shares were downgraded by analysts at Exane BNP Paribas.

The broker cut its long-term growth forecasts for the company over concerns about technological disruption in the advertising industry.

Carrefour (CRRFY) shares were down nearly 5% heading into the close after investors overlooked a surprise 2.8% increase in sales during the second quarter and instead chose to focus on risks to margins after the group's CEO hinted on an earnings call that top-line growth may have come at the expense of selling prices.

Advertising agency Publicis (PUBGY) stock was also among the big fallers on the Parisian blue-chip index, after also suffering a downgrade from analysts at Exane BNP Paribas.

In Frankfurt, broadcaster and digital media business Prosieben (PBSFY) stock extended its recent decline with a nearly 2% fall Friday. After having gained more than 10% in the first-quarter, the stock has sank to a 6% year-to-date loss during recent months as fears over advertising revenue have built.

Prosieben was accompanied at the bottom of the DAX by clothing retailer Adidas (ADDYY) , whose stock had fallen just more than 1% in late afternoon trading, although Friday's price action comes after the shares rose by more than 5% over the course of the week.

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