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European stocks closed flat on Friday as investors reacted to new Chinese trade data and euro zone industrial production figures.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was in positive territory at the closing bell, chemicals stocks leading the gains with a 1.2% climb while autos recovered from an early fall to trade 0.8% higher. Health care was the worst performing sector, shedding 1.3%.
An official report Friday revealed that China's exports fell less than expected in June, with dollar-denominated exports falling 1.3% from the same period a year ago. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 2% decline on the back of the ongoing trade war with the U.S.
Euro zone industrial production rose more than expected in May, data showed on Friday, offsetting declines over the past two months and defying gloomy forecasts caused by prolonged trade tensions. EU statistics agency Eurostat said euro zone factory output grew by 0.9% in May on the month, exceeding modest market expectations of a 0.2% rise.
Daimler stock was down 0.6% by the end of the session, after the German carmaker warned investors to expect a second-quarter loss before interest and taxes of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) after a 2.6 billion euro profit posted in the same period last year.
Investors are also processing mixed messages from the U.S. Federal Reserve after Chairman Jerome Powell kept the focus Thursday on global risks which could trigger a rate cut this month, while colleagues from regional Fed districts painted a rosier picture of continued U.S. growth and a solid business outlook.
In corporate news, Chinese tourism group Fosun said on Friday that it is in advanced talks with Thomas Cook Group's lending banks to inject £750 million ($940 million) into the London-listed travel operator. The British tour group's stock plummeted on the news to its lowest level on record, down more than 60%.
Italian infrastructure group Atlantia said it would explore the purchase of a stake in ailing national airline Alitalia, though it is unlikely to be ready ahead of the government's deadline of Monday. Atlantia stock traded 1.5% higher following the news.
Norwegian financials company Storebrand fell 4% to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after tepid second-quarter results, while insurance compatriot Gjensidige Forsikring climbed 4.6% after outperforming pretax profit expectations.