Europe's main stock markets were mixed but Frankfurt set yet another record on Thursday while the euro eased against the dollar as traders digested the Bank of England's keeping its main interest rate unchanged, and booked some profits after several days of gains.


"European markets struggled to find a direction," CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson commented.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies gained 0.14 percent to 6,592.74 points, a level last seen in late 2007, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.16 percent to 8,262.55 points, for its third consecutive record close.

In Paris the CAC 40 slid by 0.70 percent in value to 3,928.58 points however.

Dealers said Paris fell on profit taking and technical reasons caused by the payment of dividends to shareholders by a number of companies.

In Madrid, the Ibex-35 index slipped by 0.28 percent to 8,572.7 points meanwhile, and in Milan the FTSE Mib was 0.96 percent lower at 17,091 points.

Back in London, the Bank of England kept its main lending rate at the record-low level of 0.50 percent, holding back from cutting borrowing costs to help spur growth.

The central bank decided not to mirror central banks that have cut borrowing costs in the past week, and also opted against pumping out more new stimulus cash to boost economic growth.

In foreign exchange deals, the European single currency dropped to $1.3101 from $1.3156 late on Wednesday in New York.

On the London Bullion Market, gold fell to $1,465 an ounce from $1,468 on Wednesday.

In New York, US stocks also struggled for direction in midday trading after recent record-setting gains, despite a favourable report on jobless claims.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was essentially unchanged at 15,101.2 points, while the broad-based S&P 500 slipped by 0.21 percent to 1,629.26 and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was up by a slight 0.06 percent at 3,415.24.

Back in Europe, official data revealed on Thursday that unemployment in eurozone member Greece climbed to 27 percent of the workforce in February from 26.7 percent a month earlier.

The highest rate was registered for youths aged 15-24, at 64.2 percent.

Europe's major stock markets had posted solid gains on Wednesday, with Frankfurt's main index hitting another record high in the wake of recent robust German industrial data.

"With indices sitting on such lofty levels, it's natural investors pause and book profits but that has not changed the overall improved risk-tone we have seen in markets since the ECB cut interest rates last week," said Ishaq Siddiqi, analyst at ETX Capital.

"An easing recession in the eurozone, with German economic fundamentals indicating an improvement has soothed fears the region's powerhouse's economy has stalled," he added.

Asian equities closed mostly lower on Thursday as dealers took profits after recent impressive gains, but higher than expected inflation figures out of China had little effect on the markets.

"It's more likely the market fell on profit-taking after gains in previous sessions," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told AFP.

"Inflation was only slightly higher than expected, so it had limited impact on the market."

Source: AFP