* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.05 pct, hovers below 7-year lows
* Prudential head Tidjane Thiam to become Credit Suisse’s CEO
* EDF recovers as French economy min excludes merger with Areva
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, March 10 (Reuters) - European stocks were steady in early trading on Tuesday, while shares in Credit Suisse soared 7 percent after it named a new chief executive.
The Swiss lender said it had hired Prudential head Tidjane Thiam as the first African to lead a global investment bank, with the job of reviving a company reeling from U.S. penalties and under increasing regulatory scrutiny.
“Credit Suisse has had different issues throughout the years and someone with a diverse background could look at its strategy with a fresh pair of eyes,” said Sally Yim, vice president at Moody’s Investors Service.
German reinsurer Hannover Re also featured among the top gainers, up 3.8 percent after it raised its dividend to 4.25 euros per share from 3 euros by offering a special dividend payment after record net income for the year.
Shares in French utility EDF rose 2.8 percent after Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Reuters late on Monday the government has no plans to merge EDF with loss-making nuclear group Areva, although the two groups could forge an industrial alliance and EDF may consider a capital investment in Areva’s reactor business.
Wacker Chemie rose 4 percent after Bloomberg reported the company is preparing to spin off Siltronic, its silicon wafer unit that supplies the global microchip industry.
At 0833 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.05 percent at 1,566.25 points, hovering below a seven-year high hit last week.
“It’s too early to say that the market has hit a top. The trend is still positive for now despite the hesitation of the last few days. The best thing to do is to buy all the little dips,” said Jean-Louis Cussac, head of Perceval Finance.
UK’s FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX index down 0.3 percent, and France’s CAC 40 down 0.3 percent.
Energy firms featured among the heaviest fallers, with BP losing 1.1 percent and Total down 1.5 percent, tracking sliding oil prices, with Brent futures down 0.9 percent to below $58 a barrel.
Chinese inflation unexpectedly picked up in February, but producer prices slid more, underscoring the pressure on profit margins at Chinese companies and adding urgency to policymakers’ efforts to find ways to support growth.
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)