Europe shares close higher; Syria weighs
European shares closed higher on Friday, boosted by weak U.S. jobs data that assuaged fears of an imminent end to quantitative easing.
This came despite downward pressure on markets after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to support Syria against any Western military strike.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 dropped by as much as 0.4 percent in the afternoon, after it was reported that Russia would "assist" Syria in the case of an external attack. The index pared losses when it was clarified that Russia would "maintain current support" if Syria was attacked.
Tensions over Syria have dogged the market for the last week and Putin's words signaled the possibility of a huge military division between Russia and the U.S. Putin said he would continue arm sales to Syria, and said he was convinced the chemical attack in Syria was by rebels, rather than the government.
Elsewhere, European shares responded to the latest U.S. job figures, which helped the FTSEurofirst 300 close higher.
U.S. job growth was less than expected in August as the U.S. economy created 169,000 new jobs, rather than the 180,000 forecasted. However, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent.
Markets have been weighed by concerns the Fed will start tapering its asset purchasing program soon, after a flurry of strong economic data. A strong jobs number on Friday would have been seen as a confirmation for Fed tapering sooner rather than later.
Greek economy shrinks by less than forecast
In other data releases on Friday, Greek gross domestic product (GDP) was revised to -3.8 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, up from a previous estimate of -4.6 percent.
One factor helping support European stocks in recent weeks has been inflows from U.S.-based funds. U.S. investors added to their holdings of European equities for a tenth straight week in the week ended September 4, according to data from Lipper.
"European macro risks continue to reduce. European growth prospects continue to improve. This is good news for European companies and European equity markets," Citi's equity strategy team led by Jonathan Stubbs said in a report.
In stocks news, shares of Air France-KLM rose 2.11 percent after the airline said passenger traffic rose in August.
Peugeot Citroen shares rose 3.69 percent after the automaker proposed a salary freeze in 2014 and a "moderate" salary increase in 2015.
Shares of the world's biggest spirits maker Diageo rose 0.32 percent after Citi rated the stock a buy and raised its target price to £23.20 pence.
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