London: European equities rose on Friday after four sessions of losses, with financial and commodity shares gaining ground ahead of keenly-watched US non-farm payrolls data.
At 0818 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was 0.8% higher at 957.08 points. It is up 48% since a record low in March, but still down about 17% on a year ago just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers accelerated the global credit crisis.
Banks were among top gainers, with Standard Chartered, HSBC , Barclays, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swedbank and KBC up 1 to 4.8%.
Miners got strength from higher metals prices, with zinc jumping 5% to 13-month high on renewed confidence in the global economy. Gold has gained about 5% in two days to trade near $1,000 an ounce, copper rose 0.6%, and aluminium was up 0.5%.
BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Antofagasta, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and ENRC rose 1.7-2.8%. Among energy shares, Tullow Oil was up 1.4%, while Total rose 1%.
“A poor week is in desperate need of a good finish. Having enjoyed a stellar run over the past few weeks, it is now a test of nerve for the market bulls,” said John Murphy, analyst at ODL Securities.
The index is down 2.2% this week after gaining in six of the seven previous weeks.
Investors awaited US jobs data, due at 1230 GMT. Employers are likely to have cut 225,000 jobs in August, according to the median forecast of 81 economists polled by Reuters, down from 247,000 in July, while the unemployment rate was forecast to have inched up to 9.5% from 9.4%.
Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5-0.8%.
ANALYSTS RAISE FORECASTS
Some analysts raised forecasts for stock markets on continued improvement in macro-economic conditions.
Goldman Sachs raised its year-end target for the DJ STOXX 600 to 260 points from 235 and lifted its estimates of net income growth pre-exceptionals for European corporates in 2010 to 40% from 34% on the back of higher global economic growth forecasts.
UBS raised estimates of EPS growth for European corporates in 2010 to 25% from 15% and increased its 2009 year-end target for the FTSEurofirst 300 index by 10% to 1,100 points.
“In the very near term we are fully aware that the equity market looks somewhat overbought and appears likely to have some form of modest correction,” Nick Nelson, European equity strategist at UBS, said in a note.
“However, given our view on the bounce back in earnings growth next year and increasing conviction that the economic cycle has turned, we feel the fundamental backdrop remains supportive.”
G20 policymakers will this weekend promise to keep economic support packages in place until recovery is certain and seek to reassure financial markets they have credible plans to withdraw the stimulus when appropriate.
Among individual shares, French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen rose 5.7% after French daily La Tribune reported that the carmaker was mulling an alliance with Japanese Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
When asked to comment on the story, a PSA Peugeot Citroen spokesman said: “There is nothing new”, and added: “I am not confirming anything.”
Deutsche Telekom was up 1.9%. The Financial Times said in its on-line edition the company was in talks with Vodafone, France Telecom and Telefonica about selling its British unit T-Mobile UK.
T-Mobile UK was not available for comment.