Europe Markets

Europe closes higher after US payrolls, Greek saga drags on

Europe closes higher after US payrolls, Greek saga drags on

European equities dipped lower on Friday after strong U.S. jobs data and the markets digested the outcome of talks between Greece and Germany – the euro zone's largest economy – over the future of its bailout program.

The pan-European Euro Stoxx 600 Index traded almost 0.3 percent higher, reversing earlier losses after investors welcomed monthly U.S. nonfarm payrolls data, which showed the U.S. jobs market remained in good health.

Shire down 1%

On the FTSE 100, Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Chartered Bank, performed strongly up 2.2 and 0.2 percent respectively. Services company Compass was among the worst performers, trading down almost 1 percent, after Goldman Sachs cut the stock to sell from neutral.

Drugmaker Shire was trading down 1 percent after it and accountancy firm PwC were accused of "industrial scale" corporate tax avoidance by a panel of British lawmakers Friday, an accusation both companies denied.

In the U.S., the monthly labor market report showed employers hired steadily and wages picked up, with U.S. nonfarm payrolls growing by 257,000 in January, outstripping analyst expectations.

U.S. stocks were slightly higher Friday, as initial cheer over a strong jobs report turned to concerns of an earlier Fed interest rate hike.

Greece, Germany in 'game of chicken': Ex-Cyprus central banker

On Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin after a week of travelling European capitals in an effort to drum up support for Greece's new proposals over its debt and bailout program.

The talks in Berlin had mixed success, however, with Schaeuble saying that the ministers had "agreed to disagree,"

The Greek government is under pressure to find a solution to its funding situation as its current bailout ends at the end of February and there is still a tranche of bailout funds it has not received. Lenders are not ready to release the funds until Greece makes a commitment to continue with the conditions of its bailout, such as austerity measures.

On Wednesday, the ECB took a hard line on Greek debt, revoking a waiver that allowed banks to use Greek government debt as collateral for loans, saying it was no longer able to assume there would be a successful conclusion to the Greek government's bailout program review.

Greek banks fall

The Athens stock exchange was trading down 0.8 percent Friday, with Greek banks the worst performers.

The Bank of Piraeus was trading down 5.7 percent, Alpha Bank down 11.7 percent and the National Bank of Greece down 11.4 percent.