2 de abril de 2015 / 17:19 / en 3 años

European shares tread water before Easter break; M&S rallies

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct in thin volume

* Marks & Spencer surges after posting a rise in sales

* Oil and mining stocks weigh

* Major European markets shut until Tuesday

By Francesco Canepa and Blaise Robinson

LONDON/PARIS, April 2 (Reuters) - European equity indexes closed broadly flat on Thursday as losses among metals and energy stocks offset sharp post-results gains in retailer Marks & Spencer.

Traders said investors were reluctant to buy ahead of a U.S. jobs report due on Friday when European markets will be shut.

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. private employers added the smallest number of workers in more than a year in March, raising the risk of a disappointing non-farm payrolls reading on Friday.

Shares in M&S rose 5.2 percent after the British retailer returned to growth in non-food sales after four years and started to put its online distribution problems behind it.

“There is likely to be some debate about how the ... sales figure has been achieved in light of highly visible late-year promotional activity,” Espirito Santo analysts wrote in a note.

“But numbers going up is worth something to the share price and stands the company in good stead for the more significant launch to the autumn/winter season in September.”

KPN rose 2.9 percent after it confirmed it has had interest from potential buyers of Base, its Belgian operating arm.

Oil & gas stocks fell nearly 1 percent, however, with oil prices tumbling as much as 4 percent after global powers negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran called for a news conference after more than a week of talks in Switzerland.

A nuclear pact for Tehran could remove Western sanctions on the OPEC nation’s oil exports, bringing millions of additional Iranian crude barrels onto an already oversupplied market.

Basic resources also weighed as copper slipped towards two-week lows amid sluggish demand growth.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 0.2 percent at 1,586.15 points while the Euro STOXX 50 ended flat.

Greek stocks enjoyed some respite, closing 0.8 percent higher, but the country was still at the forefront of investors’ minds amid concerns about its finances if it fails to unlock financial aid from creditors.

Trading volume was 30 percent lower than its three-month average, with stock markets in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm shut for all or part of the day for the Easter break.

Major European markets will be closed from Friday to Monday and reopen on Tuesday.

“People are reluctant to chase the market higher today because of the U.S. payrolls coming tomorrow,” FXCM market analyst Vincent Ganne said.

“That said, the trend in European stocks remains quite strong, with clients calling trading floors to buy the market every time there’s a dip.”

Europe bourses in 2015: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2015: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today’s European research round-up (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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