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European stocks close higher after mixed US data

European shares finished marginally higher yesterday as takeover talk lifted stocks such as Barclays Bank while miners, notably BHL Billiton, fell after a sector downgrade.

A mixed bag of US economic data prompted leading stock market indexes on both sides of the Atlantic to bounce in and out of positive territory late in the European day, with the US benchmark S&P 500 gauge up 0.22 per cent at 6.35 p.m. (Malta time).

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 0.09 per cent higher at 1,449.14 points, retreating from its near two-week closing high on Thursday. It remains about 13.5 per cent higher for the year. London's FTSE 100 index gained 0.34 per cent, the German DAX was up 0.22 per cent and the French CAC 40 rose 0.09 per cent while the Swiss Market Index fell 0.35 per cent.

Barclays shares rose 3.25 per cent to £7.30, after hitting £7.41, their highest-ever level, climbing for a second day as speculation mounted about a bid from Bank of America.

"What we think we know is Bank of America approached the group (Barclays) in a past life about a deal," said Simon Maughan, analyst at Blue Oak Capital.

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