LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks declined early Friday on news that a doctor in New York had tested positive for Ebola after returning from Guinea in West Africa. News that Britain's economy expanded 0.7% in the third quarter, in line with economists' expectations, did little to alter the mood.

Still, Britain's economy has grown 3% over the past year, which contrasts sharply with the situation in Continental Europe. The August retail sales figures for Italy, for instance, which were released this morning, showed the fourth monthly decline in a row. Year on year, they're down 3.1%.In the Netherlands, shares in mechanical and electronic technical services provider Royal Imtech slumped 7.69% in early trading to less than one euro cent a share after the company announced that it raised 600 million euros ($760 million), or four times its market capitalization, in a much criticized a 131-for-one discounted rights offering to existing shareholders at one cent a share. The shares recovered later in the morning to just above the offer price. The company is raising money for a debt restructuring. Just 52.44% of shareholders took up their rights in the swap.

It wasn't all gloom. In Sweden, truck builder and aircraft engine maker Volvo soared 10.1% to Skr85.77 after expanding a cost savings program, and delivering a 9.2% climb in profits for the third quarter.

But Swedish telecoms equipment company Ericsson (ERIC - Get Report)  fell 1.17% despite announcing better-than-expected earnings. That's because it said sales its U.S. business had begun to slow during the quarter as network operators were investing less and focusing more on cash-flow optimization.

In London, the world's largest education publisher, Pearson (PSO) , fell over 2.1% to 2,444 pence after sticking to its profits forecast for 2014 in an interim management statement. It said revenue in its core European geographies declined in the first nine months of 2014 by 10% in headline terms, and by 7% at constant exchange rates. In the U.S., revenue fell by 6% in headline terms, due to the strength of sterling against the U.S. dollar, but increased by 2% at constant exchange rates.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce  (RYCEY) fell 0.56% to 797.0 pence despite the announcement of a joint venture with the Hispano-Suiza unit of French engineering group Safran to design, develop, produce and support accessory drive train transmissions for Rolls Royce civil aircraft engines. Safran was down 1.53%.

But mid-cap pet grooming and accessories chain Pets at Home Group, brought to market by private equity owner Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP in March, rose 2.79% to 176.8 pence -- still far below its IPO price of 245 pence, but up from its all-time low of 162.1 pence earlier this month. It said like-for-like sales were up 4.2% in the first six months and it was continuing to open new stores in line with its growth strategy.

London's FTSE 100 was down 0.26% at 6,403, while in Paris, the CAC 40 was off 0.48% at 4,138. In Frankfurt, the DAX was down 0.17% at 9,031.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.01% at 15,291.64, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was down 0.13% at 23,302.2.