(Adds company news, quotes, details; updates snapshot table)
LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - European shares were set to rise on Thursday, mirroring gains in the United States and Asia, with investors positioning for more soothing data and some clarity on Spain's likely aid request during a European Central Bank press conference after its rate verdict.
Data showed on Wednesday that U.S. companies added more jobs than expected last month, while the services sector picked up, suggesting the economy remained on track for modest growth. Focus will be on Thursday's jobless claims data and Friday's non-farm payrolls to see if the numbers surprise on the upside.
"Economic figures from the United States yesterday helped counter-balance some disappointments elsewhere like in Europe and lifted expectations for better than predicted numbers in the coming days," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.
"The market is looking for some catalysts and that could come from the third-quarter results season and from economic numbers."
Futures for Euro STOXX 50 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC
were 0.4 to 0.6 percent higher. Financial spreadbetters earlier predicted Britain's FTSE 100
to open as much as 0.3 percent higher.
Some investors expect that the ECB President Mario Draghi may provide hints about Spain's likely move regarding an international bailout following its rate decision. The majority of 73 economists polled by Reuters said they expected no change on Thursday.
"If Draghi gives any indication that a request from Spain is close or that the conditionality linked to it will not be as strict as we've seen with other bailed out countries, we should see the markets rally," James Hughes, chief market analyst at Alpari, said in a note.
"An agreement here will show real progress being made by the eurozone which will undoubtedly be reflected in the markets by an increase in risk appetite."
The Bank of England will also hold a policy meeting on Thursday. All but one of 59 economists polled by Reuters forecast an unchanged total for the quantitative easing stimulus programme of 375 billion pounds. They all predicted it to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 0.5 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares fell 0.1 percent to 1,100.84 points on Wednesday, while U.S. shares
0.1 to 0.5 percent. Japan's Nikkei average
gained 0.9 percent on Thursday.
However, European technology companies might feel some pressure after Hewlett-Packard
offered a 2013 earnings outlook on Wednesday that underscored slow progress on a turnaround plan and decelerating technology spending worldwide. HP shares hit a nine-year low.
MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0635 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,450.99 0.36 % 5.24 NIKKEI 8,824.59 0.89 % 77.72 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 0.11 % 0.58 EUR/USD 1.2927 0.18 % 0.0023 USD/JPY 78.59 0.17 % 0.1300 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.634 -- 0.02 10-YR BUND YLD 1.456 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,781.69 0.24 % $4.30 US CRUDE $88.29 0.17 % 0.15
* Asian shares steady, investors wait for more US data
* Nikkei up from 4-wk low, tech shares drop on HP warning
* Wall St stays afloat on firm data but HP drags
* Bonds little changed before Fed minutes, jobs data
* Yen near 2-week low ahead of BOJ, euro eyes ECB
* Gold holds ground; eyes on central banks, U.S. data
* Copper slips as growth worries linger; US data eyed
* Brent hovers above $108 as economic worries deter investors
COMPANY NEWS EADS , BAE SYSTEMS
Chief Executive Tom Enders told mass-circulation daily Bild that under the proposed tie-up with BAE Systems he is prepared to offer guarantees for jobs and certain sites that he would not be willing to consider for EADS alone. Related news
The head of VW's works council, Bernd Osterloh, urged the company to offer a low-cost car in emerging markets to counter weak sales in Europe, German paper Handelsblatt reported, citing Osterloh. Related news
AIR FRANCE-KLM , AIR BERLIN
Abu Dhabi based airline Etihad Airways is urging Air Berlin, in which it holds some 30 percent, to offer joint flights with Air France
, German paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, citing Etihad's chief executive. BHP BILITON
The top global miner is among the companies talking to Petrobras about buying a stake in the Brazilian state-led oil company's Gulf of Mexico oil fields, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Swiss dental implant maker Nobel Biocare said on Thursday a third quarter sales shortfall in Japan will hit revenues and profits for the year. For more, click on
The French bank said it had started exclusive talks to sell its loss-making Greek unit Geniki Bank to Greek lender Piraeus Bank
as it seeks to cut its exposure to the debt-stricken country. LVMH
Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury brand by sales, owned by the French luxury group, aims to start selling alligator-skin fountain pens, customised writing paper and brightly coloured inks in time for Christmas, industry sources close to the matter told Reuters.
The state-owned utility said it would hire 6,000 workers in France this year.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash)
Keywords: MARKETS EUROPE FACTORS/