European shares steady, hope for U.S. payrolls boost
* FTSEurofirst 300 flat, EuroSTOXX 50 off 0.2 pct
* U.S. data boosts expectations of strong jobs number
* Alcatel down, Beiersdorf up in mixed earnings season
LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - European equities steadied on Friday, looking to the U.S. jobs report for reassurance on the health of the world's biggest economy that might give key indexes the momentum to test two-week highs. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was flat at 1,109.70 points at 0835 GMT, while the EuroSTOXX 50 index of euro zone blue chips edged 0.2 percent lower to 2,529.66 points, off the previous session's intra-day high of 2,541.87. Expectations for a strong reading from the U.S. non-farm payroll report - the last before next week's presidential elections - were bolstered by a better than expected ADP private sector employment report and ISM manufacturing index in the previous session. ``The ADP figures were quite good ... and there is a rather high likelihood that U.S. government did not lay off staff this month as well, and that would be good for non-farm payrolls,'' said Peter Garnry, equity strategist at Saxo Bank. ``If the non-farm payrolls are better than expected, I think it could be a catalyst for the market to continue the momentum from yesterday going into the weekend.'' A number above the 125,000 consensus could help the EuroSTOXX 50 break out of the 165 point range of around 2,440 to 2,605 it has held to since mid-September. That followed a rally of more than 460 points in the two previous months on a European Central Bank pledge to protect the euro. ``If the positive tone continues, we will have a new trading signal if we have new highs compared to yesterday,'' said Petra Kerssenbrock, technical analyst at Commerzbank, forecasting that EuroSTOXX 50 could test 2,600 by year-end.
The economic health of the United States has become increasingly key for European companies as the region stutters due to the debt crisis. The third quarter earnings season has underscored the divide, as companies with strong foreign revenues outperform home-focused peers. A 15 percent drop in revenues in Europe pushed telecom equipment market Alcatel towards a bigger than expected third quarter loss, shaving 7.2 percent off the share price on Friday. Skincare manufacturer Beiersdorf rallied 6.6 percent after raising its 2012 outlook thanks to a strong performance in emerging markets. With the third quarter earnings season half way through, 44 percent of companies in developed Europe have missed forecasts and the remainder are expected to undershoot by on average 1.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine data.