European Markets Seesaw

European stocks switched between small gains and losses Thursday, following a pullback in the previous session that stopped a five-day winning streak.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was off less than 1 point at 344.28, weighed by a 4.7% drop in Kingfisher PLC shares . The home-improvement retailer's first-quarter trading update showed growth in total sales to 2.8 billion pounds ($4.7 billion), but the company also noted ongoing weak consumer confidence in France, one of its largest markets. Kingfisher's properties include B&Q, Screwfix and Castorama.

Also hit were shares of Commerzbank AG , down 2.4% after Exane BNP Paribas cut its rating on the financial institution to neutral from outperform. Exane said it upgraded Commerzbank nine months ago as it believed there was a "reasonable chance" that Commerzbank would pass a European Central Bank stress test. "While our view has not changed dramatically, the combination of lower earnings and a more challenging capital path has weakened our conviction," said Exane in a note to clients.

Commerzbank was the biggest decliner on Germany's DAX 30 index , which slipped 0.1% to 9,933.81. The DAX earlier this week reached a record high.

In other developments, Spain cut its economic-growth forecast for the first quarter to 0.5% from a previous estimate of 0.6%. Spain's IBEX 35 was down 0.6% at 10,696.

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.3% to 6,874.36, with Smith & Nephew PLC returning to the top of the index as its shares rose 2.7%. Medical-device maker Stryker Corp. (SYK) on Wednesday said it hadn't made a bid for the London-based artificial-joints maker, but investors still bid up Smith & Nephew's shares by more than 4%.

In France, France's CAC 40 fell 0.2% to 4,521.89.

Stock markets in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are closed Thursday in observance of Ascension Day.