(For a live blog on European stocks, type LIVE/ in an Eikon
* Significant gaps still remain at Brexit trade deal talks
* Euro zone business activity contracted sharply in November
* Rolls-Royce jumps 15.5%
* Ireland's ISEQ scales near 11-month high; Flutter jumps 6%
Dec 3 (Reuters) - European shares ended little changed on
Thursday, as a surge in material stocks and Rolls-Royce helped
counter downbeat business activity data from the region and
Brexit trade deal uncertainty.
London's FTSE 100 reversed losses to hit a six-month
high, up 0.4%, with miners Rio Tinto, Glencore
and Anglo American providing the biggest boosts on
record iron ore prices and buoyant copper.
Rolls-Royce surged 16% to top London's blue-chip
index, as well as the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark
after a report said it was considering a possible re-entry into
the narrow-body jetliner market.
Betting firm Flutter Entertainment was also among
the top gainers on the STOXX 600 index, climbing 6%,
after a $4.18 billion deal to increase its FanDuel holding to
95% and end Fastball's involvement in online sports betting
platform FOX Bet.
Ireland's main ISEQ index jumped 2% to close at a
near 11-month high.
Keeping sentiment in check was cautious comments on a
post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union.
Significant gaps still remain on three main issues at the
negotiations, EU officials said.
"We think that eventually some kind of a very limited deal
will be agreed upon at the very last minute," said Teeuwe
Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank in Amsterdam,
warning that there may not be too many details nor an
Discussions around the EU budget, as well as U.S. jobs data
due on Friday are among other events on investors' radar,
Meanwhile, IHS Markit's composite PMI on Thursday showed
euro zone business activity contracted sharply last month, with
services PMI sinking to 41.7 from October's 46.9.
Germany's DAX led declines on the day, down 0.5%,
while France's CAC 40 lost 0.2%.
The STOXX 600 has recovered about 45% from March lows, with
November's bumper rally lifting it from a downtrend, but it
still remains close to 10% below its highs this year.
While Europe looks to expected monetary policy easing from
the European Central Bank next week, in the United States there
were early signs that a $908 billion bipartisan proposal could
be gaining traction as a negotiating tool for fresh relief for
the pandemic-hit economy.
"The key message (from the ECB) will be that (it) is
committed to administering its medicine for a long time, even as
the economy gets back to health," said Andrew Kenningham, chief
Europe economist at Capital Economics.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak
Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)