LONDON (CNNfn) - European bourses paid little heed Friday to the record close overnight in New York and strong gains in Asia. The war in Kosovo and fresh weakness in the euro weighed on investor morale.
In Asia, the Hang Seng rallied more than 4 percent and the Nikkei jumped 0.74 percent.
Talk of mega-mergers in the telecom and retail sectors offset some of the sluggishness.
London's leading index got a modest boost Friday from news of a planned heavyweight merger in the retail sector.
After opening about half a percent higher, the FTSE 100 pared some early gains but was still up 0.29 percent, or 18.5 points, at 6,484.6 as retailing giant Kingfisher (KGF) confirmed it's in talks with the U.K.'s third largest supermarket chain, Asda (ASSD).
Kingfisher stock edged up 0.34 percent to 873 pence, while Asda shares led the FTSE gainers, with a 9.35 percent surge to 193 pence.
Europe's new single currency, the euro, remained just a notch above its lifetime low of $1.0630, hit earlier Friday, amid statements by western leaders that the war in Kosovo could become a protracted affair.
Frankfurt's electronically-traded Xetra Dax trimmed some early losses to trade down 14.72 points, or 0.28 percent, at 5,175.00. Zurich's SMI was virtually flat at 7,234.9.In Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.22 percent at 4,3320.12, reversing course following a dip into the red at the open.
The telecom sector will come under scrutiny Friday amid reports that Deutsche Telekom (FDTE) is considering a white knight bid for Telecom Italia to fend off the unwanted attentions of Olivetti.
Any deal would raise questions about the future of Deutsche Telekom's alliance with France Telecom (PFTE), whose shares were off nearly 2 percent in Paris Friday.
Traders in Frankfurt reacted cautiously to the reports. Deutsche Telekom's shares notched up 0.35 euros to 39.10. Telecom Italia shares rose 0.1550 euros to 9.75 in Milan.
Elsewhere on the telecom front, investors will be awaiting the response of U.K.'s Cable & Wireless' (CW.) to a decision by IDC to reject its bid in favor of domestic rival NTT. Cable & Wireless stock inched up 0.2 percent to 786 pence.
BP Amoco (BPA) gained 3.50 percent to 1,111 pence, its highest level since the two companies completed their merger. Shell (SHEL) advanced more than 2.5 percent to 429 pence.
Club Med (PCU) leapt about 3 percent in Paris after Italy's Agnelli group said it had increased its stake by 3 percent, to take the holding above the 20 percent level.
-- from staff and wire reports