European shares finished Friday's session slightly higher, with investors contemplating M&A activity and speculation and ongoing tensions in Iraq.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index inched higher for most of the session and finished narrowly positive at a provisional 1,396.1 points. This was nearly 0.5 percent higher on the week and close to the 6-1/2-year high of 1,397.5 reached during the session.
Shares in Shire were the big movers, ending provisionally higher by 17 percent. This was after the pharmaceutical company, which has been a rumored takeover target for much of a decade, said it had rejected a takeover bid from AbbVie.
Meanwhile, French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg announced late in the day that the government would purchase a 20 percent stake in Alstom from main shareholder Bouygues. He added that neither the bid from General Electric nor Siemens-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for Alstom's power assets had met governmental demands, but that France would work with the former on forming a new proposal.
Alstom shares finished the session higher by around 1.1 percent.
U.S. stocks pushed modestly higher, with the S&P 500 extending a five-session climb that has sent the benchmark into uncharted territory.
Markets on both sides of the Atlantic came under increased volatility during the session, as stock and index derivatives expired simultaneously in a process known as "quadruple witching."
Investors continued to focus on events in Iraq, after U.S. President Barack Obama promised to send up to 300 military advisers to help the country battle the Sunni rebels who have taken control of several cities. The continued violence and possibility of oil disruptions has pushed oil prices higher and capped gains in stock markets for most of the week. The price of Brent crude remained above $114 on Friday.
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