A trader speaks on the phone in front of a screen showing the CAC 40 stock market index in Paris
London - AFP
Europe's main stock markets mostly fell on Thursday on quiet trading because of the Ascension Day holiday, and ahead of vital US economic data, dealers said.
London's FTSE 100 index of top shares rose 0.24 percent to 6,867.93 points.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index fell 0.17 percent to 4,524.13 and Frankfurt's DAX 30 dipped 0.07 percent to 9,932.61 points from Wednesday's closing level.
Madrid's IBEX 35 shed 0.27 percent as official data confirmed the Spanish economy grew 0.4 percent in the first quarter.
Milan's FTSE Mib index was down 0.43 percent in value.
"Low volumes are helping the (downward) trend. Much of Europe takes a holiday today, although many markets remain open," said IG analyst Will Hedden
The euro dived to $1.3586, the lowest level since mid-February, before next week's European Central Bank meeting that analysts expect will see monetary policy easing to counter deflation worries.
London's top gainer was British medical equipment maker Smith & Nephew, whose share price rallied 3.98 percent to 1,033 pence on hopes of a takeover bid.
However, after media speculation this week, US peer Stryker issued a statement Wednesday to declare that it did not intend to make an offer for Smith & Nephew.
On the downside, Kingfisher's share price slid 4.94 percent to 396.6 pence in London, as investors took profits following upbeat quarterly earnings from Europe's biggest home-improvements retailer.
Kingfisher said revenues rose 6.1 percent to £2.783 billion ($4.649 billion, 3.420 billion euros) in the 13 weeks to May 3, compared with a year earlier.
In Paris, shares in cable and telecom operator Numericable surged by 5.57 percent to 42.76 euros on a recommendation from Citigroup in view of upheaval in the French telecoms market where Numericable is expanding rapidly.
With key US economic data due to be released later in the day, including the second estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product, dealers were keeping to the sidelines.
Other key data will include US jobless claims and inflation numbers.
Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Thursday as investors took a breather after the previous day's rally, taking their lead from a retreat on Wall Street.
Hong Kong lost 0.30 percent, Shanghai shed 0.47 percent, Sydney fell 0.14 percent and Seoul dropped 0.24 percent, while Tokyo reversed earlier losses to end slightly higher.
In foreign exchange deals on Thursday, the euro stood at $1.3610, up from $1.3590 late in New York on Wednesday.
The European single currency firmed to 81.33 British pence from 81.31 pence.
The British pound declined to $1.6734 from $1.6710 on Wednesday.
The price of gold fell to $1,252.98 an ounce from $1,263.50 Wednesday on the London Bullion Market.
In Wall Street action on Wednesday, New York's three main indexes ended lower ahead of the raft of economic indicators.
The Dow dipped 0.25 percent, the S&P 500 eased 0.11 percent, snapping a two-day streak of record closes, and the Nasdaq fell 0.28 percent.