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 picked up slightly in late trading after an unsteady start, on a quiet day because of the Ascension Day holiday, and they brushed off poor US data as did Wall Street, traders said.
Wall Street opened on a positive note despite a downward revision for US growth in the first quarter.
But the US figures undermined the dollar, and the euro rose to $1.3610, having fallen early in the day to the lowest value since mid February of $1.3586 from $1.3590 late on Wednesday.
Traders expect the European Central Bank to ease its monetary policy next week to ward of deflation, and encourage lending in the sluggish eurozone economy.
London's FTSE 100 index of top shares rose 0.29 percent from the closing level on Wednesday to 6,871.29 points, and not far from 6,900 points traders noted.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index rallied slightly but ended with a net loss of 1.12 points or 0.02 percent at 4,530.51 points.
In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 also recovered some lost ground to close flat at 9,938.90 points.
Madrid's IBEX 35 shed 0.21 percent to 10,734.8 points as official data confirmed the Spanish economy grew 0.4 percent in the first quarter.
But Milan's FTSE Mib index was down 0.35 percent to 21,511 points despite a successful sovereign bond issue.
On Wall Street, sentiment was firm in early trading, shrugging off official data showing that the US economy shrank by 1.0 percent in the first quarter, a setback which surprised the market.
The SandP 500 index was showing a gain of 1.73 points or 0.09 percent to 1,911.51 points, although the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 16,633.66 points. The Nasdaq index largely of technology stocks rose 0.18 percent to 4,232.75.
"Despite this revision of US gross domestic product, the market does not seem at all concerned," said trader Yves Marcais at Global Equities in Paris.
Shares in British medical equipment maker Smith & Nephew, jumped 3.56 percent to 1,028.98 pence on hopes of a takeover bid.
Mining shares were firm on more optimistic sentiment towards prospects for the Australian economy.
On the downside, Kingfisher's share price slid 4.86 percent to 397.04 pence in London, as investors took profits following upbeat quarterly earnings from the firm, Europe's biggest home-improvements retailer.
In Paris, shares in cable and telecom operator Numericable surged by 5.3 percent to 42.65 euros on a recommendation from Citigroup in view of upheaval in the French telecoms market where Numericable is expanding rapidly.
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Asian stock markets were mostly lower as investors took a breather after the previous day's rally.
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.
The European single currency firmed to 81.44 British pence from 81.31 pence.
Sterling ended at $1.6717 having fallen to $1.6693 earlier, the lowest level for six weeks. It had closed at $1.6710 on Wednesday.
The dollar continued to fall against the yen, to 101.55 from 101.84.
The Swiss franc was almost steady at 1.2208 Swiss franc s for a euro, and edged up to 0.8969 francs the the dollar.
The yuan closed at 6.2397 to the dollar from 6.2553 on Wednesday.
The price of gold closed at $1,255 an ounce from $1,263.50 Wednesday on the London Bullion Market.
The eurozone sovereign debt market was calm. The Spanish 10-year yield edged up to 2.863 percent and the Italian yield also firmed slightly to 2.958 percent, after a successful new issue.
The benchmark German 10-year Bund yield was slightly up to 1.354 percent from 1.338 percent.
Outside the eurozone, the British 10-year Gilt yield was steady at 2.541 percent, and the US 10-year T bond yield fell to 2.426 percent from 2.4430 percent.