European markets ended mixed on Friday, with investors reacting to fresh economic data amid continued uncertainty over Greece. The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) index finished around 0.2 percent higher, while major bourses closed pointing in different directions. London’s FTSE (FTSE International: .FTSE) and Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) both closed around 0.3 percent higher, while French stocks (Euronext Paris: .FCHI) closed flat. Much of the periphery finished in the red. Euro zone finance ministers arrived in Brussels on Friday for another round of discussions on Greece’s debt problems. The policymakers are set to mull over latest proposals from Greece to extend its loan agreement by six months. Any decision from the Eurogroup of finance ministers has to be unanimous for any policy decision to go ahead.
Read More Germany snubs Greece: What to watch for next A preview of an article due out Saturday by the German Spiegel newspaper said the European Central Bank (ECB) was preparing for for the event that Greece could leave the euro. An ECB spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Greek stocks in Athens closed down around 0.3 percent on Friday.
U.S. stocks pared losses as investors saw greater possibility of a Greece debt resolution after earlier trading lower ahead of the Eurogroup meeting.
On the data front, German producer prices showed a further fall in January, leading to increased fears that the region is falling into a deflationary spiral. However, growth in euro zone business activity hit a seven-month high in February, following a pick-up in demand, according to a closely-watched survey released on Friday morning. The flash composite reading of Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) came in at 53.5 this month, up from January’s 52.6 and above analyst forecasts. In the U.K. borrowing figures out Friday showed that public finances improved in January and posted its largest monthly surplus in seven years.Retail stocks were the major underperformer, with Kingfisher (London Stock Exchange: KGF-GB) shares finishing almost 2 percent lower. The retail group received a downgrade from Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Friday morning and dragged the wider benchmarks lower. Meanwhile, Gemalto (Euronext Amsterdam: GTO-NL), an international digital security company, saw its shares fall to the bottom of the Euro Stoxx 600 after reports of a hacking attempt at the firm and a downgrade on Friday from Rabobank.
Read More Chipmaker probes report of hacking by US, UK spies Standard Life (London Stock Exchange: SLET-GB) shares closed 2.7 percent on Friday after reporting a 19 percent jump in operating profit for 2014.
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