LONDON (TheDeal) -- European stocks struggled to gain momentum on Thursday after disappointing purchasing managers' data from China to Europe offset dovish minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting.
In the eurozone, Markit Economics' purchasing managers' indices for May came in below expectations, with the composite PMI index declining to a three-month low of 53.4 but holding well above the 50 floor that separates economic expansion from contraction. German figures disappointed, while French data came in ahead of expectations.
In the U.K., the Office for National Statistics figures showed U.K. retail sales, excluding petrol, increased 1.2% in April by volume, compared with a 0.2% rise the month before. The April rise was much bigger than a consensus forecast for growth of 0.3%.
In London, the FTSE 100 was down 0.02% at 7,005.63. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.33% at 11,809.27 and in Paris, the CAC 40 fell 0.36% to 5,115.06.
The Athens Composite Index was up 0.09% at 841.17 as European leaders prepare to meet in Latvian capital Riga for a discussion which may generate progress on a resolution to Greece's debt crisis.
In London, Asia Resource Minerals was down about 10% after founder and shareholder Nat Rothschild and a bid partner withdrew an indicative takeover offer for the cash-strapped coal producer.
Maternity goods retailer Mothercare (MHCRF) rose sharply after analysts, including Peel Hunt, upgraded fiscal 2016 profit forecasts after the company's full-year results showed same-store sales in its core U.K. market are growing again.
Grocery wholesaler Booker (BOKGY) surged after it announced the £40 million ($62.7 million) purchase of two businesses from Ireland's Musgrave with its full-year results and said it would return another 3.5 pence per share to shareholders.
And defense technology company QinetiQ (QNTQY) rocketed after announcing a 7% rise in fiscal 2015 pretax profit to £107.8 million and a 17% rise in the full-year dividend.
Brussels-listed financial investor GIMV rose on strong full-year results.
And in Frankfurt, software maker SAP (SAP) - Get SAP SE Report was the lead decliner on the DAX on China growth worries and after an uneventful shareholders' meeting yesterday, in which investors agreed to raise the annual dividend by 10%.
The Nikkei 225 achieved a new 15-year high as it crept up 0.03% to close at 20,202.87. The Topix closed up 0.21% at 1,646,80.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.22% at 27,523.72.
Short-term financing company Goldin Financial Holdings plunged 44% and sister group Goldin Properties Holdings closed down 41% in Hong Kong, though both entities said they were unaware for the reasons for the steep losses.
Shares in solar gear maker Hanergy Thin Film Power remained suspended after tumbling 47% yesterday.
Mainland Chinese indices closed up after weaker-than-expected Markit purchasing managers' data, which showed that output contracted in May for the first time this year. The data fueled hopes of further monetary stimuli to spur growth, even as it damped stock indices elsewhere in the region.
The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.87% at 4,529.42.