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European markets higher as US job market bounces back; Saipem shares rise 3%

Chloe Taylor
  • U.S. nonfarm payroll data showed a rebound in the job market, boosting investor sentiment. 
  • Market players monitored the latest developments in trade discussions between Washington and Beijing.
  • Investors grew nervous amid worries over a potential economic slowdown in the euro zone.

European stocks edged higher on Friday, as the U.S. posted a solid rebound in job creation in March.

Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 196,000 while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.8 percent, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report published Friday .

The pan-European Stoxx 600 edged slightly higher during afternoon trade, with major bourses in positive territory.

Investors were also eyeing the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks, which ended without any meaningful conclusions.

Europe's basic resources stocks — with their heavy exposure to China — led the gains, up around 0.7 percent during afternoon deals. It comes after President Donald Trump said Thursday that Washington and Beijing were making swift progress in trade talks, adding "we'll know over the next four weeks" whether an agreement can be reached.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said a new consensus had been reached by both parties over the text of a deal, official state news agency Xinhua reported.

Looking at individual stocks, Italy's Saipem SPM-IT surged towards the top of the European benchmark after reportedly securing offshore drilling contracts in Norway and the Middle East for a total of $200 million. Shares of the Milan-listed stock rose over 3 percent on the news.

Meanwhile, Britain's Hammerson slumped towards the bottom of the index. It comes after Jefferies and Stifel both cut their target price for the real-estate company, with the latter also downgrading its stock recommendation to "sell" from "hold." Shares of Hammerson slipped over 3 percent.

Growth concerns

Despite the positive news around trade, investors grew nervous amid worries over a potential economic slowdown in the euro zone.

Data released on Thursday showed that German factory orders fell at their sharpest rate in two years. Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report said the Italian government is set to cut its 2019 GDP (gross domestic product) forecast to just 0.1 percent — significantly lower than a 1 percent expansion forecast in December.





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