Paris underperforms flat European stock markets
* CAC underperforms as weak data weigh on Paris market
* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, but still near six-year highs
* Raiffeisen rallies after Q1 numbers
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, May 22 (Reuters) - French stocks underperformed flat equity markets elsewhere in Europe on Thursday, as weak economic data weighed on France's benchmark CAC-40 index.
The CAC was down by 0.3 percent at 4,454.97 points in mid-session trading. It lagged behind Germany's DAX, which rose 0.2 percent to 9,713.70 points as it retreated from a record high 9,810.29 points last week.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was flat at 1,364.58 points, still within touching distance of a six-year high of 1,372.81 points set last week.
The DAX outperformed the CAC on the latest evidence the German and French economies are diverging. French business activity unexpectedly shrank in May for the first time in three months while Germany's private sector kept expanding.
"If the CAC does not hold above 4,500 points, the bears will be in with another chance of pushing it even lower," said JNF Capital investment manager Edward Smyth. By contrast, Smyth said, the DAX may hit a record high of 10,000 points. Continuación...