Europe Markets

Europe Shares Close Higher on US Jobs Data


European shares closed higher on Friday after better than expected non-farm payrolls in the U.S boosted investor sentiment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. reported that 236,000 jobs were added to the economy in February, above estimates of 160,000 jobs, with the the unemployment rate falling to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.

The FTSEurofirst 300 Index closed up 0.8 percent. Germany's DAX index crossed the 8,000 point mark at one point on Friday, before pulling back to close at 7939, up 0.6 percent on the day.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei jumped to a new four-and-half-year high in Friday's session, thanks to the yen's decline. Revised growth data in Japan showed the economy stabilizing in the fourth quarter of 2012 after two quarters of a shallow recession.

Meanwhile, China posted strong trade data which showed exports rising 22 percent in February from a year ago, though imports were weaker than forecast.

In the U.S., all but one of the 18 biggest banks have passed the Federal Reserve's annual stress tests that measure the banks' performance, key capital ratios (that must be above 5 percent) and plans to return capital to shareholders. Ally Financial was the only lender that did not pass the minimum capital buffer.

Citigroup was called the "most improved" of the banks tested and the bank said it had asked the Federal Reserve permission to spend $1.2 billion to buy back its own stock.

Meanwhile in the U.K., Barclays' chief executive, Anthony Jenkins, has told investors that cost cutting is his priority and he wants to reduce the bank's staff by 30 percent so it could operate with as little as 100,000 employees, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The latest production data was released in Spain showing that industrial output remained lower by 5 percent year-on-year in January. German industrial production was weaker-than-expected coming in at unchanged for January after December's gain of 0.6 percent.

In stocks news, Dutch multinational Fugro led the Euro Stoxx 600 Index higher as the firm, which supplies geoscience services to construction industries, announced results that beat expectations; shares jumped 13.7 percent.

Deutsche Bank raised Delhaize from a 'hold' to a 'buy' rating on Friday; shares in the Belgian food retailer closed up 6.3 percent.

Also on Friday, Spanish bank Santander announced it has sold 300 million euros ($393 million) of troubled consumer loans to a U.S. hedge fund at a discount; shares of the company closed up 3.2 percent.