European shares were set to rise on Friday, tracking gains on Wall Street, as encouraging weekly U.S. jobless data boosted confidence about a recovery in the labor market ahead of the keenly watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls figures due later in the session.
European shares ended lower on Thursday, hit by weak results from heavyweights Royal Dutch Shell and Santander, although strong US ecomic data had helped pare losses by the close.
A meeting of European leaders on Friday will place the European sovereign debt crisis in focus once again.
Friday's discussions are likely to focus on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the 440 billion euro fund set up last May and used in November to bail out Ireland, with officials focused on finding ways to increase its effective size and make it more flexible.
Germany is expected to lead the debate on a package of potential resolution measures when leaders assess progress in tackling the year-long euro zone debt crisis, but no breakthroughs are expected at the one-day meeting.
Yields on Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Belgium 10-year bonds have all fallen this week, indicating a degree of increased confidence in the market.
ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told a news conference on Thursday that inflation is likely to climb further and could exceed the bank's target for most of the year, but poses no threat yet to medium-term price stability.
The news sent the euro sharply lower against the dollar, with analysts saying Trichet's underlying message is that there is no need for a rate hike anytime soon.
Also on the agenda on Friday are UK car registration numbers for January. Spain releases industrial production numbers, while Italy is set to publish its latest inflation data.