European stocks rise at start of second quarter

April 2, 2011 - 0:0
LONDON (AFP) — European stock markets climbed Friday, the first day of the second quarter, as traders awaited key U.S. jobs data that will provide a health update on the world's biggest economy. In late morning trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.79 percent to 5,955.01 points, the Paris CAC 40 advanced 0.55 percent to 4,011.06 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 won 0.91 percent to 7,105.12. All three markets ended Thursday in the red. The Stoxx 50 index of leading eurozone companies increased 0.65 percent to 2,929.82 points on Friday. ""With the month of March behind us and a negative close on both the FTSE 100 and DAX indices, the start of April brings a shine,"" said City Index analyst Sandy Jadeja. Later on Friday, at 1230 GMT, the U.S. government's Labor Department is expected to report a forceful rise in hiring, with the release of its unemployment survey for March. Economists expect 203,000 private jobs were created last month, providing further evidence that the world's largest economy is on the mend. That would be the sixth-straight month of private payroll growth. But the unemployment rate is expected to stay at 8.9 percent -- after a precipitous drop since November -- as more people rejoin the jobs market. Still, the report on non-farm payrolls and unemployment is likely to shore up confidence in the U.S. economy, amid crises in Libya and Japan. ""The big driver at the moment appears to be resurgent hopes that the U.S. economy is looking upbeat and although the afternoon's non-farm payrolls could prove instrumental in deciding just how we end the week, momentum certainly seems to be building,"" added IG Index trader Yusuf Heusen. Asian shares were mixed Friday in cautious trade ahead of the US data while a weak yen provided some support, but concerns over the consequences of last month's earthquake weighed on sentiment. Tokyo ended 0.48 percent lower after gaining more than three percent in the previous two sessions. But Seoul ended 0.68 percent up at a record high 2,121.01, while Hong Kong jumped 1.17 percent and Shanghai gained 1.34 percent. As workers struggle to avert a catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was badly damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami, dealers looked to its impact on corporate Japan following production halts and rolling blackouts. European equities had fallen on Thursday, tipping to the downside as concerns over a deepening eurozone debt crisis offset largely positive U.S. economic data. Dealers said news that both Spain and Portugal are struggling to meet key deficit targets needed to stabilize their public finances stoked fears that the debt crisis which claimed Greece and Ireland last year is far from over. Late Thursday, Ireland announced that its stricken banks needed another 24 billion euros to cover losses, taking very nearly all the money set aside for them under its EU-IMF bailout terms.