* Most European markets shut or only having half-day
* Ballast Nedam surges on merger/acquisition approaches
* Randgold rises on firmer gold price
* FTSE 100 up 0.3 pct, France’s CAC up 0.4 pct
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Dutch construction group Ballast Nedam was the standout performer on European stock markets on Wednesday, as its shares surged after an approach on a possible merger or takeover.
Most of Europe’s stock markets were either shut or only trading for half a day.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.3 percent while France’s CAC-40 advanced 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX market was shut, as was the Italian exchange.
Ballast Nedam rose more than 20 percent after the company said it had been approached by Dutch and international parties about a merger or acquisition.
Randgold Resources was among the best-performers on the FTSE, advancing 2.1 percent as the gold mining specialist benefited from a rise in the price of gold itself.
The gold price has advanced in recent sessions as worries about Greece have increased appetite for the metal, often viewed as a safe haven during times of economic uncertainty.
Greece is set for an early general election on Jan. 25, and the main Athens equity index, which has slumped 30 percent in 2014, was down by 0.5 percent.
Opinion polls point to a victory by the radical Greek leftist Syriza party.
Syriza wants to wipe out a big part of the national debt, and cancel the austerity terms of a 240-billion euro ($291.7 billion) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Greece still needs to pay its bills.
However, some traders say any hit to European markets from the Greek situation could be mitigated by new economic stimulus measures such as “quantitative easing” by the European Central Bank next year.
“Our take is that ECB QE will be announced in March, not January. Despite the objections of the Germanic bloc, we view QE as unavoidable,” said SteppenWolf Capital chief investment officer Phoebus Theologites.
($1 = 0.8229 euros)
Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v
Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v
Today’s European research round-up
Editing by Robin Pomeroy