Europe Markets

FTSE, DAX, CAC Seen Flat; US Jobs Data Eyed


European stocks were called to open flat to lower on Friday after hitting six month closing high on Thursday and ahead of non-farm payrolls data from the US due on Friday.

The FTSE is called 1 point lower, the DAXin Frankfurt is expected to be up by 3 points and the CAC 40 is called lower by 3 points.

Glencore and Xstrata were the biggest European gainers of the day on Thursday as shares were boosted on news that the commodities trader and mining group were in merger talks.

Shares in the companies rose 6.9 percent and 9.9 percent respectively.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke came under fire from Republicans in Congress on Thursday over the Fed's zero interest rate policy and faced accusations that central bank policies risked spiraling inflation.

Bernanke responded with claims that the US economy remained fragile and stressed the necessity of continued support due to the threat of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.

In Asia overnight stocks and the euro fell ahead of crucial jobs data from the US and amid concerns that Greece has yet to reach a deal with private creditors over losses they are willing to incur on Greek bondholdings.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said late Thursday that the European Central Bank must assist the country with driving down its massive debt and he added that a bond swap program currently being negotiated with private creditors must be implemented.

The European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn said on Thursday that a deal with private bondholders was close and he expected a deal by the end of the week.

Rehn also backed Portuguese efforts to drive down debt, saying that the country was making progress and rising borrowing costs were due to recent credit downgrades.

Portuguese banks BCP and Banco Espirito de Santo are expected to post record losses on Friday due to the transference of pension funds to the state and exposure to Greek debt.

Banco BPI reported a net loss of $269 million on Thursday due to a writedown on its Greek debt holdings.

There was better news from German lenders late Thursday when the head of Germany's new financial watchdog Bafin claimed German banks are likely to meet new capital requirements without external assistance.

German banks submitted plans to Bafin in December detailing how they intend to meet the European Banking Authority's 9 percent core capital requirement by late June.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will conclude a three day visit to China on Friday, while IMF Director Christine Lagarde commences a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Key corporate releases out of Europe on Friday include third quarter results from British telecommunications firm BT and full year results from luxury goods brand Christian Dior .

Economic releases of note include service sector PMI from France at 8:50am UK time, followed by Germany at 8:55am, the EU at 9:00am and the UK at 9:30am