Europe Shares to Take Their Cue From US Jobs Data

European shares are seen opening little changed Friday after Thursday's strong gains, with investors waiting for widely-watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for near-term market direction.

Sharon Lorimer

European shares hit a two-week closing high on Thursday on reports the European Central Bank had bought euro zone bonds and as data showed pending sales of existing US homes unexpectedly surged in October.

The European Central Bank on Thursday kept interest rates on hold at 1 percent, but ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet resisted pressure to announce a major bond-buying program to contain the euro zone debt crisis.

Trichet told CNBC in an interview that despite criticism from outsiders, the ECB had succeeded in the past 12 years to safeguard price stability better than individual member states had been able to before the introduction of the euro, including Germany.

"External observers are have always the inclination to underestimate the capacity of European cope with challenges," he said.

Spain saw strong demand at a bond auction on Thursday, with yields lower than expected. Spanish Prime Minister JoseLuis Zapatero told CNBC in an interviewhe expected to see growth in Spain next year and that the country's banks are healthy.

HSBCChairman Stephen Green steps down after Friday's board meeting, following the announcement in September that he will become Trade and Investment Minister in the UK coalition government in January.

The announcement sparked a boardroom succession which will see Douglas Flint succeed Green as group chairman. Stuart Gulliver will take over from Michael Geoghegan as chief executive at the end of December.

Economic data due on Friday inludes German retail trade figures for October and the German Puchasing Managers' Index for November.

The European Commission will release November data on the services and manufacturing sectors and retail trade figures for the whole of the euro zone.