European markets closed lower in trade on Friday, despite a better-than-expected U.S. jobs number, as worries about the ongoing situation in Ukraine hit markets once again.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed lower by 0.5 percent at 1,348.31 points, having fluctuated in-and-out of positive territory for most of the session.
Jobs data caution
The U.S. government's nonfarm payrolls report showed that 288,000 jobs were created in April, way above forecasts of 215,000, and up from the 192,000 jobs that were added in March.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate to fall to 6.6 percent; it in fact dropped to 6.3 percent, the biggest monthly decline since October 2011 and to the lowest unemployment rate under President Barack Obama.
Investors were cautious about other aspects of the data, however.
"Today's employment report is quite strong on its face but some beneath the headline data points mitigate our enthusiasm. Investors are likely to find this report mixed and unclear," Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG, said via email.
While major European bourses closed lower on Friday, most finished the week up: the FTSE 100 closed the week higher by 1.74 percent while the DAX and FTSE MIB closed up 1.43 and 1.57 percent respectively.
Ukraine tensions weigh
Reported developments involving Russia and Ukraine weighed on both European and U.S. markets late on Friday. The situation came to the forefront on Friday after pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian helicopters on Friday, killing two crew, as a battle raged over the town of Slovyansk.
The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting at noon ET. This would be the security council's 13th meeting on Ukraine since the start of the crisis.
"It's the uncertainty that matters," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
Euro zone unemployment remained at 11.8 percent in March, unchanged since December, according to the European Union's statistics office Eurostat on Friday.
The data also showed that the number of unemployed people in the euro zone area decreased by 22,000 between February and March. Unemployment was 316,000 lower in March than a year before, when it hit a record high.
The youth unemployment rate in the euro zone remained stubbornly high, however, falling from 24 percent in March 2013 to 23.7 percent in March 2014.
This unemployment data came shortly after separate figures showed that manufacturing in the region accelerated in April, in a strong start to the second quarter of 2014. France's performance slumped slightly, however, as the country continued to lag behind a broadening recovery on the continent. The CAC 40 closed down around 0.9 percent.
Royal Bank of Scotland shares closed up around 8.2 percent on Friday, after it reported a quarterly attributable profit for only the sixth time since its 2008 government bailout. Its first-quarter pre-tax profit trebled to £1.6 billion ($2.7 billion), up from £826 million in the same period a year before.
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InterContinental was another top performer on the FTSE 100 on Friday. The hotel giant's shares provisionally closed higher nearly 8.2 percent after it posted strong first-quarter revenue growth and said it would pay a special dividend.
AstraZeneca shares closed 0.15 percent lower on Friday, while Pfizer ended the day down 1.4 percent.
Panmure Research recommended investors await a third bid for AstraZeneca, which could push the offer towards £55. It reiterated its "buy" recommendation and £54 price target.
"With tax inversion a significant motive, we await a higher offer before expected rule changes make re-incorporation more difficult," said Panmure analyst Savvas Neophytou in a morning research note.
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