European stocks rise amid mixed data, Ukraine woes

European stock markets rose on Tuesday as traders reacted to a mixed batch of regional economic data, while keeping a close watch over escalating tensions surrounding the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies climbed 0.61 percent to stand at 6,741.22 points near midday in the capital, with investors reacting positively to more solid growth data for Britain.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.98 percent to 9,538.48 points and in Paris the CAC 40 added 0.43 percent to 4,479.63 compared with Monday's closing levels.

Madrid's IBEX 35 index advanced 0.81 percent to 10,404.7 points, with traders brushing aside data showing that Spain's unemployment rate climbed to nearly 26 percent in the first quarter.

The euro was firm.

European equities had risen on Monday, with the pharmaceuticals sector given a shot in the arm on the prospect of a takeover battle after British giant AstraZeneca turned down a $100-billion (72-billion-euro) offer from US drugs group Pfizer.

In Paris, shares in electricity supplier EDF fell by 2.44 percent to 27.17 euros on press reports that the French state may sell part of its 84.0-percent stake in the company to raise 6.0 billion euros to help engineering group Alstom, the target of takeover moves.

Shares in Capgemini computer services fell by 1.05 percent to 51.63 euros after the group reported a small rise in sales in the first quarter, held its targets, and said it now employed more than 50,000 people in India.

Shares in auto group Peugeot Citroen fell 8.59 percent to 11.91 euros after the group launched an operation to raise 3.0 billion euros, with some of the shares being offered at a big discount.

In London on Tuesday, attention switched to economic data.

"Markets may have been overly optimistic about the outcome of UK first quarter growth. Expectations for a 0.9-percent rise on the quarter failed to materialise, but growth of 0.8 percent is still nothing to sneeze at," said Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG traders.

- Concern over Ukraine crisis -

Investor focus remained firmly on the unrest in Eastern Europe, as Moscow on Tuesday accused Washington of bringing back "Iron Curtain" policies in the fierce showdown over Ukraine.

At the same time, the West revealed its new sanctions included measures against Russia's military chief.

"If all we see in the coming weeks is more sanctions, I think investors will be quite pleased," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari traders.

"The danger comes when Russian troops cross the border, that's when the dash for the safe havens (such as gold) will occur."

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to $1,288.34 an ounce in Tuesday trading from $1,299 on Monday.

In foreign exchange trading, the euro rose to $1.3868 from $1.3851 late in New York on Monday.

The European single currency climbed to 82.49 British pence from 82.40 pence, while the pound gained to $1.6810 from $1.6807 on Monday.