European Stocks End Higher, Miners Gain

European stocks ended higher on Friday, gaining ground for a third consecutive session as heavyweight mining shares including Xstrata soared on market talk of consolidation in the sector.

Stocks also got support from slightly higher-than-expected U.S. monthly jobs figures that eased fears of a sharp slowdown in the U.S. economy but not so much to change expectations for a rate cut by the Federal Reserve next week.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares unofficially closed 0.6 percent higher at 1,537.29 points. Europe's benchmark index, up 3.6 percent on the year, finished the week with a gain of 0.7 percent.

"Jobs figures were neither bad nor really good. It confirms that there is a slowdown in job creation, but nothing too sharp, and we think the trend will continue next year," said Jean-Marc Lucas, economist at BNP Paribas, in Paris.

"We don't think it will change monetary policy. We're expecting a 25 basis point cut by the Fed next week and more cuts to follow in 2008."

Miners gained ground on market talk that Anglo American could launch a bid for Xstrata, sending its stock up 7.9 percent. Anglo American added 5.1 percent and Rio Tinto rose 2.9 percent.