* STOXX 600 up 0.1 pct
* Miners, energy biggest weights
* Petrofac slumps after suspends executive
* Zodiac, Safran reach deal
(Recasts, adds quote and detail, updates prices)
By Kit Rees
LONDON, May 25 European shares struggled to keep
gains on Thursday in choppy trade as falls in commodity-facing
firms weighed, with investors hunting for fresh direction in the
aftermath of Europe's blistering first quarter earnings season.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up just 0.1
pct, dipping in and out of positive territory and still below
holding below 21-month highs. Euro zone blue chips
were 0.2 percent higher.
James Butterfill, head of research and investment strategy
at ETF Securities, said that now the earnings season is over the
next points to focus on included the U.S. Federal Reserve's
announcements, the ECB meeting next month and the UK's general
"We've seen very strong inflows last week into safe havens
... so clearly people are being cautious," ETF Securities'
Trading volumes were thin, as Austrian and Nordic markets
were closed for a holiday.
Miners were led lower by a fall among steelmakers
ArcelorMittal and Tenaris, which dropped 2
percent and 1.4 percent respectively as the price of iron ore
extended losses for a third day in a row.
Oilfield services provider Petrofac was the biggest
STOXX faller, slumping nearly 30 percent after suspending its
Chief Operating Officer Marwan Chedid amid a fraud
French aerospace supplier Zodiac gained 0.2
percent after accepting a reduced offer from aero engine maker
Safran, following a series of profit warnings. Safran's
shares rose 1.1 percent.
Analysts at Barclays said the offer was better than
expected, but they had doubts about the strategic rationale of
the deal. "Having high conviction in forecasts is a challenge
given Zodiac's enduring volatility," they said in a note.
The European banking sector was slightly higher,
with shares in Credit Suisse and Spain's Banco Popular
, BBVA and Santander all gained
between 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent, supporting Spain's IBEX
which rose 0.5 percent.
A handful of firms reported earnings, with Britain's
Intermediate Capital Group jumping around 7 percent
after its full-year results, and GVC Holdings also rose
nearly 4 percent after a first-quarter update.
British media group Daily Mail and General Trust
dropped more than 7 percent, set for its biggest one-day loss in
more than a year after its first-half results disappointed.
(Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Tom Heneghan)