European Stocks Flat as Eurozone Growth Misses Forecasts

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks were little changed on Thursday after a mixed day in Asia as GDP figures highlighted the divergent paths of major world economies.

The eurozone economy expanded 0.2% quarter on quarter, and 0.9% on the year, slightly below expectations, as French and Italian data disappointed while German expansion beat forecasts. Consumer price growth in the eurozone accelerated on an annual basis in April, separate data showed, with the core inflation rate at 1%.

Earlier in the day, Japanese data showed the economy expanded 5.9% in the first quarter, beating forecasts. The rise came ahead of an April sales tax rise which some economists worry could lead to a second-quarter contraction.

U.S. April consumer price data and weekly jobs data, out at 8.30 a.m. EDT, could set the tone for the afternoon session in Europe.

In London, the FTSE was down 0.02% at 6,876.97. In Frankfurt, the DAX edged up 0.02% at 9,756.07. The CAC in Paris slipped 0.20% to 4,491.82.

In Paris, Alstom slipped after the French government awarded itself new powers to intervene in takeovers. That could derail General Electric's (GE) agreed $15.6 billion bid for Alstom's power unit, an offer the government has said it opposes.

Luxury goods maker Cie. Financiere Richemont, the owner of the Cartier and Montblanc brands, was up almost 5% after posting rising full-year results and profit and disclosing revenue had increased in all its geographical markets apart from Japan.

In Frankfurt, postal services operator Deutsche Post slipped after first-quarter earnings fell short of estimates.

In London, both Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail fell after confirming a long-awaited 50/50 merger to create a phones and appliances retailer with a market value of about 3.75 billion pounds ($6.28 billion). Carphone Warehouse will technically be the acquirer, swapping 0.155 of a share for each Dixons share, but the merger partners have split the management positions between the two groups.

London Stock Exchange Group  was one of the lead gainers on the FTSE 100 after posting a 50% increase in full-year revenue and saying it had identified extra savings from its recently acquired LCH.Clearnet Ltd. clearing house unit.

But FTSE 250 constituent Thomas Cook Group, a tour operator, tumbled on concern about summer bookings after delivering a generally upbeat set of results first-half results. The bulletin showed its loss narrowed, while its debt fell about a third from a year earlier. The company's shares have surged way ahead of peers in the past year as a restructuring plan by CEO Harriet Green has panned out.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei closed down 0.75% at 14,298.21 and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng rose 0.66% to close up 22,730.86.

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