* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 pct, pauses after last week’s gains
* Miners fall after China data, Citi downgrade
* M&A speculation boosts Nokia, Alcatel, Smurfit Kappa
* TGS sinks after sales warning
By Francesco Canepa and Blaise Robinson
LONDON/PARIS, April 13 (Reuters) - European shares stalled on Monday after a recent rally as poor Chinese trade figures knocked mining shares, although mergers and acquisition activity helped keep pan-European indexes afloat.
Nokia rose 2 percent as brokers talked up a possible sale of its maps unit.
At 1350 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.1 percent at 1,646.34 points, taking a breather after a 3.7 percent jump last week.
Data showed that China’s exports plunged 15 percent in March while import shipments fell at their sharpest rate since 2009, a shock outcome that deepens concern about sputtering growth in the world’s second-largest economy and its biggest consumer of metals.
Shares in resource-related companies featured among the top losers, with BHP Billiton and Anglo American down 2 percent each.
“The export-based economy is in a process of structural changes and most of the efforts are focused on consumption, and given that the numbers released today are appalling, you want to ask if the global growth slowdown is casting its shadow,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Ava Trade in Dublin.
Adding to the mining sector’s woes, Citigroup downgraded its rating on the metals and mining sector to ‘neutral’.
It predicted iron ore will fall to $36 a tonne in the third quarter, from $47 currently, and stay below $40 for the rest of the year as big miners boost supply even further and China’s demand declines.
Shares in Nokia rose for a second day after Credit Suisse and UBS both lent credence to reports about imminent bids for the company’s maps unit.
The analysts also supported the idea a sale would be a precursor to Alcatel-Lucent’s wireless consolidation, sending shares in the French firm up 1.3 percent.
Irish packaging firm Smurfit Kappa rose 3 percent on bid speculation and Orad Hi-Tec, a technology provider for broadcasters, surged 35 percent after agreeing to be bought by U.S.-based Avid Technology.
Shares in Norwegian seismic oil and gas explorer TGS sank 12.6 percent after it cut its full-year revenue guidance and said it would lay off a tenth of its workforce.
Volkswagen fell 1.7 percent after the German carmaker plunged into a full-blown leadership crisis. Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn let it be known on Saturday he will fight for his job even though the group’s chairman has reportedly withdrawn confidence in him.
Bucking the trend, shares in Sydbank rose 5.9 percent after the group unveiled a share buyback programme.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Hugh Lawson and Tom Heneghan