Europe midday: Stocks recover as new car sales rise

France sees return to growth; Europe's new car sales rise in April; US policymakers discuss future stimulus cut

- France sees return to growth

- Europe's new car sales rise in April

- US policymakers discuss future stimulus cut

FTSE 100: 0.32%

Dax-30: 0.05%

Cac-40: 0.26%

FTSE Mibtel 30: 0.27%

Ibex 35: 0.10%

Stoxx 600: 0.01%

European equities recovered from a morning slump as France gave an upbeat outlook and new car sales in Europe rose for the first time in 18 months.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said he sees Europe's second-largest economy recovering in the second half the year.

His remarks followed the release of data from the French statistics office, which showed a contraction of 0.2% in the first three months, following a 0.3% decline the previous quarter.

Separate data on European car sales, however, provided fresh hope to the recession hit region.

Registrations jumped 1.8% to 1.08m in April, compared with a year ago - the first increase since September 2011, according to industry association ACEA.

Results were boosted by strong demand the UK which last month showed an improving economy with a 0.3% rise in gross domestic product (GDP).

US mulls cut to monetary stimulusUS Federal Reserve officials have discussed the future possibility of removing monetary stimulus.

Three officials urged the US central bank to halt bond purchases over the next few months.

Federal Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said economic growth and an improving job market may persuade the central bank to begin to reduce its $85bn of monthly bond purchases.

Lloyds and Morrisons rallyShares in Lloyds Banking Group advanced as the lender exceeded the 61p threshold below which the Treasury has said it would recognise a loss from selling its shares.

Morrison Supermarkets and Ocado Group surged after the two confirmed they were teaming up to launch Morrisons' first shopping website.

FLSmidth & Co retreated as Europe's biggest maker of cement-production lines said it signed fewer large orders.

Intertek Group tumbled after the consumer-goods testing company said that its operating-profit margin has narrowed from a year earlier.

Other asset classes mixedThe euro/dollar remained little changed at the 1.2882 dollar mark.

Front month Brent crude futures rose by $0.613 to $104.440 per barrel on the ICE.

RD

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