* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.1 pct
* Bouygues outperforms on hopes of tie-up with Orange
* Market in wait-and-see mode -fund manager
By Lionel Laurent
LONDON, May 16 European stocks held broadly
steady in early trade on Friday, with investors in wait-and-see
mode as a gloomier economic picture in Europe and dented risk
appetite balanced M&A enthusiasm in the telecoms sector.
French industrial and telecoms conglomerate Bouygues
was a sharp outperformer, rising 3.7 percent on
speculation about a possible tie-up with Orange, whose
shares rose 1.2 percent.
But benchmark national indexes in Europe were broadly flat
to lower at 0743 GMT as traders weighed the mixed economic
environment in Europe against the possibility of future
central-bank intervention that would support equity markets.
"The market is in a wait-and-see mode," said Francois
Chaulet, head of Paris-based Montsegur Finance. "Interest rates
have never been so low...There needs to be some other catalyst,
which will most likely come from the central banks."
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was 0.1
percent lower, at 1,355.60, with Germany's DAX index
and the Paris CAC-40 also down 0.1 percent after
recording its steepest daily fall since late March on Thursday
on the back of disappointing GDP data.
The Euro STOXX 50 index of euro-zone blue-chip
stocks was down 0.3 percent.
Over the past week, European indexes have been boosted by
speculation the ECB may cut rates and announce other measures at
its June meeting. The central bank has said any move would
depend on economic data, putting the euro zone GDP figures and
inflation figures under scrutiny.
"Markets are vulnerable because growth expectations are a
little bit too high," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst
at CMC Markets UK.
(Editing by Toby Chopra)