LONDON ( The Deal) -- With a short trading day on Christmas Eve, European investors were in unadventurous mood on Wednesday. Frankfurt and Milan are already closed for the holiday, while the remaining markets were mixed.
Figures released Wednesday showed that U.K. labor market productivity is still below 2008 levels, despite the apparent economic recovery over the course of 2014 Analysts said that will make it harder for U.K. employers to increase wages or reduce the level of part-time workers in the coming months.
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In London, the biggest riser was medical equipment maker Smith & Nephew ( SNN) on the back of a Bloomberg report suggesting it may be the subject of a bid from Kalamazoo, Mich.-based surgical implant company Stryker ( SYK) . The stock was up 7.25% mid-morning at 1,168 pence, with a market capitalization of 10.5 billion pounds ($16.3 billion). Bloomberg said an offer could happen in the coming weeks.
Germany's HeidelbergCement ( HDELY) said it would sell its North American and U.K. businesses, collectively known as Hanson Building Products, to private-equity firm Lone Star Funds for up to $1.4 billion. The true effect of that announcement on the cement maker's shares won't be known until the Frankfurt market reopens on Monday, but the chip is traded over-the counter in the U.S. and may be one to watch later Wednesday.
In Spain, the market continues to be unimpressed by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria's (BBVA) announcement that it is selling a 29.7% stake in Hong Kong financial services firm Citic International Financial Holdings back to its Chinese parent China Citic Bank for 845 million euros ($1.03 billion), to strengthen its balance sheet.
The FTSE 100 on Wednesday was up 0.17% at 6,610, while in Paris the CAC 40 was down 0.27% at 4,303. Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.1% at 10,488.
In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 0.07% at 23,349.34, while in Tokyo the Nikkei 225 finished up 1.24% at 17,854.23.