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Europe: Stocks mixed as Airbus leads French stocks lower

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 07:24
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[LONDON/EDINBURGH] European stock markets were mixed on Monday, with French stocks among the worst performers after the crash of a military plane caused Airbus shares to drop.

Gains by mining stocks helped to support the market after a rate cut in China, the world's biggest metals consumer.

Shares in plane maker Airbus fell 2.1 per cent after an Airbus A400M military transport crashed outside Seville on Saturday, killing four test crew. Britain and Germany grounded their fleets of Europe's new troop and cargo carrier.

Airbus led declines on France's CAC. The index lost 1.2 per cent.

Other euro zone bourses came also under pressure. The region's Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.7 per cent and Germany's DAX 0.3 per cent.

Athens' benchmark ATG equity index dropped 2.5 per cent, amid continuing concern over Greece's debt standoff. The Greek finance minister acknowledged that a deal to ease Greece's cash crunch was unlikely at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday. "The Greek situation is creating a lot of nerves in the market," said Mirabaud Securities' senior equity sales trader John Plassard.

Despite falls in major euro-zone indexes, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.3 per cent to 1,592.40 points, supported by heavyweight miners on Britain's FTSE 100 .

An interest rate cut in China lifted British mining stocks in the FTSE 100, where mining companies account for around a tenth of the index's overall market capitalisation.

Gains in Belgian and Dutch stocks also helped to support the broader market.

Shares in Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize surged 14.5 per cent and Dutch retailer Ahold rose 5.5 per cent after Belgian newspapers reported they had begun talks on a possible merger.

Spokesmen for Delhaize and Ahold said their companies did not comment on market rumours. "There are many structural similarities between both companies' portfolios - they are arguably a natural fit,"analysts at Barclays said in a note. "If this ended up as a deal in which Ahold effectively paid a premium to buy Delhaize - then the share price of the latter would likely be the bigger beneficiary Corporate takeovers have helped to prop up European markets this year."

Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta rose 1.5 per cent on Monday on expectations US rival Monsanto could return with a higher bid for it.

REUTERS