* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 percent
* French, German PMIs point to diverging economies
* Ericsson falls after earnings miss
* Primark gives Associated British Foods a lift
By Alistair Smout
LONDON, April 23 French blue-chip shares
underperformed their German counterparts on Wednesday after
survey data showed that the recovery in France is still weaker
than the euro zone's biggest economy.
France's CAC 40 index fell 0.3 percent,
underperforming a 0.2 percent drop on the pan-European
FTSEurofirst 300, after purchasing managers index (PMI)
data for the country showed waning momentum in its fragile
France's manufacturing and services figures came in slightly
below expectations, albeit still in expansion territory.
By contrast, survey data from Germany came in ahead of
expectations, posting its 12th straight month of expansion.
Germany's DAX eased just 0.1 percent.
"The gap between France and Germany is clearly widening," IG
analyst David Madden said.
"France has seen some relatively strong figures in the last
couple of months, which have started to turn opinion slightly.
But today's soft figures, coming in below expectations ... just
shows you how fragile the French economy really is."
Euro zone composite PMI data came in slightly ahead of
expectations, starting the second quarter on its strongest
footing for nearly three years.
By 0801 GMT the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.2
percent at 1,344.52, after surging 1.3 percent on Tuesday.
Earnings news was mixed, continuing a theme of the season so
far where 53 percent of STOXX Europe 600 companies that
have reported results have beaten or met expectations.
Swedish mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson
fell 4.9 percent, a top FTSEurofirst 300 loser, after missing
first-quarter sales and profit forecasts, hit by weak trading in
"Numbers look a little light given the sales miss, but with
margins improving and costs seemingly under control, I'm
surprised the stock is down the thick end of 6 percent," Matt
Basi, senior sales trader at CMC Markets said, noting that
guidance for second quarter sales was bullish.
The top riser was Associated British Foods, which
surged 9.1 percent after it met forecasts, gave a bullish
outlook for full-year profits and got a boost from its Primark
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today's European research round-up
(Editing by Louise Ireland)