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European shares finished under slight pressure on Friday, amid lower liquidity levels due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The pan-European STOXX 600 slipped 0.13 percent by the close, after fluctuating between gains and losses during the trading day. On the week, the STOXX 600, however, ended up 0.74 percent provisionally.
Banking stocks outperformed most of Europe's sectors Friday, after media reports emerged that Europe was preparing looser rules around bad loan disposals. Italian bank BPER Banca was suspended from trading after its shares rose more than 5 percent. The bank did return to trading and finished up at the top of the sector and STOXX 600, along with fellow Italian banks BPM and Ubi Banca.
Retail stocks fluctuated during afternoon deals before closing lower. The sector has been under close watch as Black Friday discounts take place — which might serve as an indicator of how retailers will perform over the Christmas period. Some Amazon workers in Italy and Germany are striking, which could affect the retailer on Black Friday, according to Reuters.
Looking at individual stocks, Provident slipped 2.3 percent by the close. This comes after news emerged that its executive chairman had passed away.
China's finance ministry announced on the last trading day of the week that it would cut import tariffs on some consumer products from the start of next month. Consumer staples groups Danone and Diageo both closed up higher as a result.
Meanwhile, William Hill responded to media speculation confirming that it was in "very preliminary discussions" with Crown Resorts' CrownBet, in regards to a potential merger with the British bookmaker's Australian division. Shares of the U.K. firm closed into the red. Meanwhile, Paddy Power Betfair rose over 3 percent after reports emerged that the gambling firm was exploring a potential deal with Australia's Crownbet.
Overall, trading was impacted by low liquidity levels. In the U.S., markets are only trading for a limited amount of time due to the holiday, and posted slight gains by Europe's close.
In terms of data, business climate numbers in Germany hit new records. Confidence among businesses rose to an all-time high in November, despite ongoing political uncertainty.
"The current situation in Germany is an excellent illustration of a phenomenon, which has characterized the entire euro zone throughout the year: buoyant confidence and strong economic growth goes hand-in-hand with political uncertainty and instability," Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING said in an email.
"In our view, this dichotomy can easily continue in 2018, yielding another strong year for the German and euro zone economy."
Market players are monitoring developments in Ireland and Germany amid political uncertainty. In Dublin, the government seems close to collapsing after calls to remove the deputy prime minister emerged. In Berlin, the social democrats are under pressure to enter coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and avoid new elections.