By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch)—European stock markets closed mostly lower on Thursday but managed to eke out modest gains in the Easter-shortened week. European markets are closed Friday and Monday for the Easter holidays.
Thursday’s trading action was marked by the markets flitting between small gains and losses as investors appeared reluctant to take any sizable positions ahead of the holidays and the closely watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls, which will be released on Good Friday.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.73% slipped 0.2% to 397.80, paring its weekly gain to roughly 0.6%.
Other indexes: Germany’s DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.72% lost 0.3% to 11,967.39, but was on track for a weekly advance of 0.8%.
France’s CAC 40 index /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.20% stood out as one the few gainers in Thursday trading, tacking on about 0.2% to 5,074.14, and ending the week up about 0.8%. The FTSE also gained on the day.
Greek reforms: Greece’s Athex Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210597948/delayed GR:GD +1.04% moved fitfully on Thursday swinging to a 0.8% gain to end at 771.32. Earlier in the day the Athens index had been showing losses. Late Wednesday, Athens handed over a more detailed plan for revising its bailout program to its EU lenders and the International Monetary Fund. The move is the latest attempt by the Greek government to unlock the next portion of its bailout money, needed for it to avoid potentially running out of cash later this month.
Hopes for an imminent deal have been fading, however, with officials in Brussels and Athens suggesting that the Eurogroup of finance ministers won’t meet until April 24.
Movers and shakers: Shares of Marks & Spencer Group PLC /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS +2.47% /zigman2/quotes/205629926/delayed MAKSY +2.35% climbed 4.8% after the retailer reported a rise in fourth-quarter sales and said its food business outperformed the market.
Paddy Power PLC rose 2.6% after Exane BNP Paribas lifted the bookmaker to neutral from underperform. The French bank further cut Betfair Group PLC , another gambling company, to underperform from outperform, sending the shares 2.5% lower.
Sugar producer Tate & Lyle PLC /zigman2/quotes/205109332/delayed UK:TATE +1.96% gained 2.7% after reporting full-year results in line with expectations.