Shares in French nuclear giant Areva and British postal operator Royal Mail
Shares in French nuclear giant Areva and British postal operator Royal Mail sank Wednesday in an otherwise calm day for European stocks, as the euro edged up against the dollar.
Areva tumbled in Paris after the company suspended its outlook for the next two years. Royal Mail was the biggest faller on London's benchmark index after posting a drop in earnings as its parcels division faces fierce competition from US online giant Amazon.
Later on Wednesday, all eyes will be on the US central bank, which publishes minutes of its last meeting that saw the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) stick to its ultra-low interest rate policy.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.56 percent to stand at 6,709.13 points nearing midday in the British capital.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.34 percent to 9,488.41 points and in Paris the CAC 40 added 0.12 percent to 4,267.45.
Areva shares plunged 15.53 percent to trade at 10.19 euros in midday deals.
Royal Mail shed 7.97 percent to 431.8 pence "after it warned that growth in parcels would slow thanks to Amazon and its competitive delivery network", noted Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG traders.
"We can expect more of the same from Royal Mail, while the expectation of hitting targets for the full year hinges on a good Christmas and thus the risk of disappointment is high," she added.
The European single currency increased to $1.2541 from $1.2537 late in New York on Tuesday.
European stock markets were largely "taking a breather after two consecutive days of substantial gains," said Markus Huber, senior analyst at brokers Peregrine & Black.
"There is only a limited amount of economic data scheduled for release today with the FOMC minutes later tonight likely to take centre-stage... In the short-term markets are somewhat overbought which makes for the occasional round of profit-taking likely."
At its meeting in October, the Fed also ended its quantitative easing stimulus programme, after six years of pumping easy money into the US economy via asset purchases to shore up growth.
The Bank of England on Wednesday revealed that its policymakers had voted 7-2 in favour of keeping its main interest rate at 0.50 percent against a background of low inflation and steady growth in Britain.
European equities and the euro had raced higher Tuesday on news that investor sentiment had rebounded in Germany in a sign that the eurozone's biggest economy is overcoming its brief malaise.
Asian markets slipped Wednesday despite record closing highs on Wall Street, with Tokyo stocks retreating after Japan's central bank stood pat on monetary policy even as the country tipped back into recession.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro fell to 79.90 British pence from 80.18 late on Tuesday in New York. The British pound firmed to $1.5697 from $1.5633.
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold climbed to $1,200.75 an ounce from $1,192.75 late on Tuesday.