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Europe shares close higher on US jobs data

European equities closed higher on Friday, rallying after a better-than-expected U.S. nonfarm payrolls report and good consumer sentiment numbers.

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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 Index provisionally closed higher by 0.7 percent at 1,270.53 points, and the majority of major European bourses and sectors posted gains.

The U.S. government's jobs report found 203,000 jobs were created in November, with the jobless rate falling to 7.0 percent. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the creation of only 180,000 new jobs, and unemployment of 7.2 percent.

The report is seen as key to whether the Federal Reserve starts to scale back its massive asset purchases this month, a prospect that has sent markets lurching into negative territory in recent sessions.

The 203,000 jobs added in November confirmed that the employment picture was improving, but probably not enough to push the Fed to remove stimulus before next year, hence the positive market reaction.

"It's as good a jobs report as one could expect — strong gains in employment, sharp decline in unemployment, increase in hours worked. It was unambiguously strong," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

But he added, "I think the Fed waits (for tapering) until March for several reasons. One, they want to make sure this is a trend and not a temporary increase in growth, and the reason the Fed will be nervous about that is because GDP is tracking below 2 percent for the fourth quarter."

U.S. stocks ran sharply higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 bouncing back after a five-session drop, after the report. Stocks furthered their gains after the University of Michigan's preliminary reading on consumer sentiment came in at 82.5 in December, beating expectations.

(Read More: Taper tempter: Job creation climbs in November)

UK housebuilders gain

In stocks news, U.K. housebulider Berkeley Group saw its shares close over 11 percent higher, after indicating that its full-year earnings could be at the top end of analysts' expectations.

This had a knock-on effect for others in the sector, with Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Development and Bellway also posting healthy gains.

However. shares of TNT Express closed down nearly 5 percent percent after Dutch mail firm PostNL said it was selling its stake in the firm.

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