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ArcelorMittal helps European shares edge up on upbeat outlook

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - European shares edged up on Friday as heavyweight steelmaker ArcelorMittal unveiled upbeat forecasts and investors anticipated further encouraging economic data from the United States.

ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker and a company regarded as a broad gauge for the health of global manufacturing, forecast higher profits in the year ahead and flagged growth in European consumption after two years of decline. Shares in the firm were up 3.8 percent at 0803 GMT.

The broader FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European shares rose 0.3 percent to 1,294.14 points, inching into positive territory for the week.

Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits came in lower than expected on Thursday, raising expectations for Friday's non-farm payrolls report for January and helping the FTSEurofirst 300 post its best daily gain since Dec. 19.

"After what we saw yesterday we're going slightly long into the data and if the figures are good we expect a nice short squeeze," said Markus Huber, senior trader at Peregrine & Black, referring to a situation where traders rush to close their negative bets on the market, helping push prices higher.