European stocks close higher; Actelion jumps 10%; Russia keeps rates unchanged

European stocks closed higher on Friday as investors continued to digest the Federal Reserve's rate hike and eyed fresh economic data.

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The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 ended 0.34 percent higher on Friday after opening flat. Banking stocks were lower in spite of news the Italian government is reportedly planning to use 15 billion euros to recapitalize several banks. Embattled lender Monte dei Paschi has formally approved a capital increase but concerns that a state intervention will be needed have not evaporated. Its shares closed 1.31 percent higher.

Basic resources ended the trading day among the worst performing European sectors following news appetite for Chinese iron ore dropped.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average continued higher and edged closer still to 20,000 after a remarkable post-election rally.

Actelion shares jump 10%

Shares of Actelion were at the top of the European benchmark, jumping more than 10.4 percent, after news that Sanofi is preparing a takeover deal, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile on Friday, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met his German counterpart Angela Merkel in Berlin at a time when European creditors blocked short-term debt relief measures for Athens. This was after the Greek government announced additional spending in pensions - a policy seen by creditors as going against what the bailout program states.

Russia keeps key rate at 10%

Russia announced Friday it was keeping its key rate at 10 percent but opened the door to a rate cut in the first half of 2017. The German Ifo Institute raised its economic forecast for 2018 growth in the country to 1.7 percent, from a previous estimate of 1.6 percent.

Oil and gas stocks closed more than 1.5 percent higher Friday after producers in the Middle East started informing clients of planned output cuts, indicating that they are willing to implement the OPEC and non-OPEC deal to stabilize oil prices. Goldman Sachs said Friday that it expects an 84 percent compliance to the planned output cuts.

Brent crude traded at around $55.14 a barrel as the European market closed on Friday, up 1.15 percent, while U.S. WTI crude was around $51.93 a barrel, up 1.05 percent.

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