Europe's leading stock markets traded mixed on Friday as investors awaited the outcomes of key elections across the region.
London's FTSE 100 index of top companies fell 0.18 percent to stand at 6,808.52 points in early afternoon deals.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 climbed 0.24 percent to 9,744.59 points and the CAC 40 in Paris edged up 0.02 percent to 4,479.15 compared with Thursday's closing levels.
"Elections dominate the headlines, as the market sits between yesterday’s European elections and the weekend’s presidential ballot in Ukraine," said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG trading group.
"Neither is particularly market-moving, but with a long weekend looming in the UK traders seem content to use the votes as a reason to close out positions as the week comes to an end."
Czech voters headed for the polls on Friday as European Parliament elections reached the east, where the Ukraine crisis is expected to hurt eurosceptics, while Ireland also joined the four-day ballot.
Meanwhile at least five people were killed Friday in fighting near Ukraine's eastern hub of Donetsk two days before a presidential election undermined by an upsurge in attacks by pro-Russian separatists.
The latest bloodshed on the heels of the deaths of 18 soldiers Thursday in the eastern rustbelt near Russia underscores the trouble the interim leaders have in making sure they can pull off a safe and well-attended vote Sunday.
In foreign exchange deals on Friday, the euro slid to $1.3629 from $1.3656 late in New York on Thursday.
The European single currency nudged higher to 80.97 British pence from 80.94 pence Thursday. Earlier Friday the euro hit a 16-month low of 80.81 pence.
The British pound retreated to $1.6833 from $1.6867.
The price of gold fell to $1,291.64 an ounce from $1,298.50 Thursday on the London Bullion Market.
Asian stock markets rose for a second straight day on Friday following a positive overnight lead from Wall Street, but Bangkok retreated after the army announced a coup following months of deadly protests.
The greenback made further inroads against the yen as improved sentiment led investors into higher yielding, riskier assets.
Sentiment remains buoyant after Thursday's gains that were fuelled by a sharp improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity.
- Barclays up despite fine -
In London on Friday, investors shrugged off news that scandal-hit Barclays had been fined more than £26 million after a former trader at the bank attempted to manipulate the price of gold, with its share price up 0.64 percent to 245.05 pence.
British regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, said it had fined Barclays £26.03 million ($43.87 million, 32.18 million euros) "for failing to adequately manage conflicts of interest between itself and its customers as well as systems and controls failings" in relation to a fixed London pricing of gold over a nine-year period to 2013.
The FCA added that it had fined former Barclays trader Daniel James Plunkett £95,600 and banned him from working within any "regulated activity" after noting that on June 28, 2012, he "exploited the weaknesses in Barclays’ systems and controls to seek to influence that day’s 3pm Gold Fixing and thereby profited at a customer’s expense".
This is a fresh blow for Barclays, which was at the heart of the Libor interest-rate rigging scandal in 2012. The troubled British bank is also facing investigations along with other major lenders over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trades.