LONDON (The Deal) -- European markets welcomed their half-day of pre-Christmas trading in subdued fashion, posting a mixed opening as the U.K. brought a slither of festive cheer while France played the role of Grinch.
In thin trading across Europe, London's FTSE 100 drummed up a 0.21% rise to climb to 6253.85, while Paris's CAC 40 failed to bring joy to the world as it fell 0.21% to 4664.85. Frankfurt's traders were already home for Christmas with German markets closed on Thursday.
The FTSE 100's top gainer was South Africa-focused banking group Old Mutual (ODMTY , up just under 2%. London-listed oil major's Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A - Get Report) and BP (BP - Get Report) both rose just over 1% after oil futures climbed overnight on news of declining U.S. reserves and a further reduction in the U.S. rig count. Outside the FTSE 100, Santa Claus finally came to town for long-suffering investors in platinum producer Lonmin (LNMID , which climbed just over 7% as it benefited from a year-end rally in mining stocks.
In Paris, Alcatel-Lucent (ALU led the CAC 40's gainers, climbing just over 2.4%, following Wednesday night's closing of the initial offer period for Nokia's (NOK - Get Report) €15.6 billion ($17.1 billion) all stock bid for the telecommunications equipment maker. The results of that offer are due on Jan. 4. Sanofi SNY was the CAC 40's worst performer, down 1.4% after BlackRock BLK revealed it had built a position of more than 5% in the French drugmaker.
Economists were able to start their festive season celebrations early this week, with no major economic news due for release on Thursday.
Away in East Asia, markets mustered a sliver of festive cheer with the broader Asia Dow index up 0.75% at 2732.59, buoyed by the recovery in crude oil prices and Wednesday's gains on Wall Street. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was the region's best performer, ending its Thursday session up 1.28% at 5207.6. Hong Kong's Hang Seng posted a 0.44% gain to close at 22138.13.
Japan and the Chinese mainland's key markets all ended the day marginally lower. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.51% at 18789.69. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.65% to 3612.49, while the Shenzen Composite ended down 0.20 at 2346.37 after Chinese authorities tightened reporting rules for insurance company investments.