* FTSEurofirst 300 ends 0.4 percent higher
* France’s CAC outperforms German DAX after better PMIs
* Scandinavian shares lead rebound
* Monte dei Paschi leads Italy lower
* German-listed Joyou slumps more than 80 percent (Adds detail)
By Alistair Smout and Lionel Laurent
LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - European shares were mixed on Thursday, recovering from lows after data pointed to contrasting fortunes in major euro zone economies, with German private-sector growth slowing again in May even as France extended its timid recovery.
France’s CAC was up 0.3 percent after manufacturing and services sectors improved in France, making it Europe’s major outperformer.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.4 percent to 1619.85 by the close, having been as much as 0.4 percent lower in early trade.
Scandavian firms Kinnevik and Nokia were the FTSEurofirst 300’s top gainers, both gaining in mid-session to finish over 3 percent higher.
Nokia rallied after sources said some of Germany’s premium carmakers were preparing to buy its mapping unit HERE, while Kinnevik-backed Global Fashion Group set for an IPO, according to fellow investor Rocket International
Rocket International rose 3.8 percent, however German stocks in general were laggards after disappointing PMI data.
Germany’s DAX was up just 0.1 percent after Markit’s flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Europe’s largest economy showed a drop in May.
However, the fact that the PMI at 52.8 remained comfortably above the 50 that marks expansion helped to soothe investors.
“It’s no real surprise that Germany slightly missed expectations. The important thing is that they’re still well above the 50 mark, so it doesn’t show a substantial contraction in growth,” James Butterfill, global equity strategist at Coutts, said.
Signs that the positive effects of the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme, such as a weakening of the euro, may have started to peter out in the second quarter have pushed some investors to trim their exposure to European stocks, though they still remain near multi-year peaks.
“We knew Germany was topping out, and the PMIs highlight that the a weak euro is crucial to give exporters, and export-driven nations like Germany, an extra push,” Veronika Pechlaner, European fund manager at Asbhurton, said.
“Any further appreciation in the euro is not going to help.”
Italy’s FTSE MIB was Europe’s underperformer, down 0.1 percent. The market was led lower by Monte dei Paschi , down 3.1 ahead of a board meeting expected to price new shares in a 3 billion euro ($3.4 billion) cash call at a large discount.
Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank fell 2.8 percent after the bank’s first-quarter profit fell by nearly half.
Outside the blue chips, the market’s most eye-popping slump came with German-listed Joyou, which sells bathroom wares such as toilets and faucets. The stock slumped 86 percent after the company said it was mulling whether to file for insolvency after an extraordinary writedown.
Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Toby Chopra)