The Deal: European Stocks Flat Ahead of U.S. Jobs Report

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European bourses were doing well in morning trading Tuesday, staying close to the highs seen the previous day. Despite some caution ahead of U.S. nonfarm payroll figures expected later, London's FTSE 100 was up over 0.1% at 6,663 mid-morning. However, Germany's DAX index was down by about the same amount, in part on weak numbers from its major airline Lufthansa. In Paris, the CAC 40 was also trading just shy of Monday's highs.
 
London's strength was driven in part by news that consumer products giant Reckitt Benckiser plans to sell its non-core pharmaceuticals division, for what analysts have suggested could be as much as $3.2 tp $4.0 billion, as well as good figures for mining company BHP Billiton ( BHP), which also boosted the Australian market earlier in the day.
 
And in Madrid, Spain's IBEX was down nearly half a percentage point mid-morning, despite the announcement from construction company FCC that U.S. software billionaire Bill Gates has bought a 6% share in the company. News of the Microsoft ( MSFT) founder's investment sent the company's share up 10%, making it the leading riser on the exchange this morning, and taking other construction and infrastructure shares up behind it.
 
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was pushed down half a percent by factors over the border in China. There's increasing concern that the government has failed to tame a worrying housing bubble, and there were weak earnings figures for the world's largest mobile phone company China Mobile ( CHL).
 
Japan's Nikkei closed up just over 0.1% at 14,713 on the weakness of the dollar.

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