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European stocks steady as investors await US jobs data


European stocks and Wall Street futures were steady on Friday after eurozone inflation fell more than expected in December, and as investors looked ahead to the release of a crucial US jobs report.

The regional Stoxx Europe 600 traded flat while London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3 per cent and France’s Cac 40 rose 0.3 per cent. Germany’s Dax edged up 0.1 per cent.

The muted moves in European equity markets came after the flash index of consumer prices across the eurozone fell to 9.2 per cent in December from 10.1 per cent in November. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected a 9.5 per cent year-on-year rise.

Data published earlier this week showed price pressures eased by more than expected in Germany, France and Spain towards the end of 2022, easing pressure on the European Central Bank to maintain its aggressive stance on inflation.

Contracts tracking Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 rose slightly while those tracking the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 slipped 0.1 per cent ahead of the New York open.

US equities sold off in the previous session after private sector employment in the world’s biggest economy rose by 235,000 in December, ahead of estimates, according to payroll processor ADP. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics later on Friday are expected to add further weight to the Federal Reserve’s arguments that the jobs market remains too tight to justify lower borrowing costs.

Economists polled by Refinitiv expect the US to have added 200,000 jobs in December, down from 263,000 in November and 261,000 in October. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 3.7 per cent, near the pre-pandemic low.

“Signs of strength in the US labour market are understandably being read as prolonging both the Fed’s concern with tight labour markets and its preoccupation with suppressing inflation,” said Chris Turner, global head of markets at ING.


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