European Stocks Mixed Ahead of U.S. GDP

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices were mixed on Thursday ahead of news from the U.S. that is expected to show the economy contracted in the first quarter.

Some European stock markets were closed for Ascension Day, and much of the continent, including France and Germany, has a public holiday.

Revised U.S. GDP data and the weekly jobless numbers are due out at 8.30 a.m. EDT. Analysts expect the economy to have contracted by as much as 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, partly because of the harsh winter, compared with the government's initial estimate for growth of 0.1%.

In London the FTSE 100 was up 0.22% at 6,866.09. In Frankfurt the DAX slipped 0.10% to 9,929.43 and in Paris the CAC 40 fell 0.21% to 4,521.90.

In London, medical devices maker Smith & Nephew made further gains after closing up 4.3% on Wednesday following a Financial Times report of bid interest from Stryker (SYK). The Kalamazoo, Mich., company issued a statement on Wednesday declaring it didn't intend to make a bid but the FT on Thursday cited Stryker's CEO confirming he had been evaluating making an offer. The announcement on Wednesday ties Stryker's hands for six months under most circumstances, under the U.K. Takeover Code, but Stryker was careful to reserve the right to use the limited leeway it has during that period to "announce or participate in an offer."

Hedge fund manager Man Group was up more than 4% after confirming it is in talks about buying Boston-based Numeric Holdings.

But home-improvement retailer Kingfisher plunged after first-quarter operating profit fell short of expectations. Sales figures, which included a 6.1% rise in same-store sales, were strong.

Saga, the provider of travel, financial and other services for the over-50s, edged higher after full dealing in the stock began following last week's IPO, which was priced at a bottom-of-the-range 185 pence per share. The stock was trading at 187.11 pence by mid-morning.

Australian e-tailer MySale Group, which is 25% owned by the Shelton Capital Ltd. vehicle of the family of Top Shop owner Philip Green, became the latest of a long line of companies to announce plans for an IPO in London.

In Paris cable company Numericable Group, which is buying Vivendi's wireless services provider, rose after Citigroup Inc. lifted its recommendation to buy from neutral.

In Japan the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.07% at 14,681.72.

SoftBank edged higher after its CEO and founder talked up the prospects for 34%-owned Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which is planning a New York IPO that is expected to value the business at well over $100 billion.

Government data showed Japan's retail sales dropped 13.7% month-on-month in April after the first increase in the country's sales tax in 14 years.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng closed down 0.30% at 23,010.14.

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