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European markets close mixed as global rally fades; Unilever soars 13.4%

European markets closed little changed on Friday, pausing for breath after a strong rally at the start of the week, as investors digested economic data and more earnings reports.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 recovered earlier losses to close flat with major bourses mixed and most sectors in negative territory. Banking stocks were among the worst performers on Friday, with autos and basic resources posting similar falls.

The Dutch oil and chemical storage firm Vopak was at the bottom of the European benchmark, down by about 7.1 percent after announcing that it did not see any core profit growth taking place this year.

Elsewhere, Unilever ended close to the top of the European benchmark on Friday after Kraft-Heinz said it had made an offer for the company. Unilever jumped over 13.4 percent higher in London.

Property investment and development company Segro climbed over 3.1 percent after announcing revenues increased and saying that demand was holding up.

German insurer Allianz announced a share buyback on Thursday evening and reported a 23 percent yearly rise in net profit for its last quarter. Its shares closed by more than 2.81 percent.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average and broader S&P 500 both continued to move lower on Friday.

The German carmaker Volkswagen also moved lower on Friday after new figures showed a sales decline in China.

In terms of data, the euro zone saw net investment figures rising in December while the U.K. saw a surprising third monthly fall in retail sales.

Meanwhile, on Friday, G-20 foreign ministers are meeting in Bonn, Germany and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Oil prices dipped slightly on Friday as growing global stocks weighed on investor expectations that producers might eventually rebalance the market.

Brent crude traded at around $55.43 a barrel on Friday shortly after the European close, down 0.41 percent, while U.S. crude was around $53.03 a barrel, down 0.62 percent.

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