* STOXX 600 flat at close
* Deutsche up after settling mortgage fraud claim
* Credit Suisse turns lower, Barclays falls on lawsuit
* NN Group, JCDecaux gain on merger deals
(Recasts, adds detail and updates prices at close)
By Kit Rees and Alistair Smout
LONDON, Dec 23 European shares were steady on
Friday with the focus on lenders after Deutsche Bank
and Credit Suisse settled mortgage securities fraud
suits in the United States, and Italy's Monte dei Paschi
agreed to a bailout.
The STOXX Europe 600 was flat at its close and
unchanged for the week, but the index still on track for its
best month since October 2015.
Deutsche Bank trimmed early gains to end 0.3 percent higher,
outperforming a slightly negative European banking index
, after it agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the
U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) over its sale of toxic mortgage
securities before the 2008 financial crisis.
U.S. authorities had been seeking nearly twice as much.
Deutsche's shares have risen nearly 80 percent since
touching record lows in September.
Credit Suisse turned negative after early gains, while RBS
, which is also being investigated, rose 1.4 percent on
hopes that its final settlement might be lower than expected.
However, Barclays underperformed after failing to
reach a settlement. It was down 0.9 percent after the DoJ
launched a lawsuit against the bank over its sale of
mortgage-backed securities. The bank said it rejected the
"(Gains for) Deutsche Bank shares suggests relief at a good
result and the affair being closed," Accendo Markets head of
research Mike van Dulken said in a note.
"Barclays' (fall) indicates some uncertainty about what it
eventually ends up paying."
Britain's FTSE 100 closed 0.1 percent higher.
Italian lenders rose 0.6 percent after the
Italian government agreed to bail out Monte dei Paschi. The
bank's shares will remain suspended until the conditions of a
state bailout become clear.
Shares in Telecom Italia rose 4.5 percent after a
report that Italy was considering a plan for its state lender to
buy a stake in the telecoms company to counter the ambitions of
French businessman Vincent Bollore.
Dutch insurer NN Group rose 3.7 percent after it
reached an agreement to buy Delta Lloyd. NN had nudged
up its unsolicited offer by 1.9 percent to 2.5 billion euros.
NN Group said the deal would cement its leading position in
life insurance in the Netherlands, increase assets under
management by 60 billion euros, and lead to "double-digit"
dividend increases starting in 2018.
Advertising firm JCDecaux rose 3.4 percent on its
merger of activities with Top Media, strengthening its presence
in Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
(Reporting by Kit Rees and Alistair Smout; editing by David