Markets: 5th January

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Markets: 5th January

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European shares finished the session virtually changed as investors took profits.

There was mixed news from across the Atlantic.

Pending sales of previously owned homes in the US fell more than expected in November.

But during that month, new orders at US factories rose 1.1 percent.

Banks were Europe’s best performers, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Allied Irish all made major gains.

Cadbury’s shares slipped as Nestle said it was not interested in making a takeover offer.

European pharmaceutical companies were hit by news that the French government has cancelled 50 million doses of H1N1 flu shots it had ordered to combat the virus.

The dollar remained weak against the euro and continued cold weather in the US kept oil prices strong.