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European stocks nudge higher on bumper US jobs data

 A man walks past a Job Fair Today sign outside during the 25th annual Central Florida Employment Council Job Fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
More than 80 companies were recruiting for over a thousand jobs. Organizers expected a couple thousand job seekers, but only around 500 attended. (Photo by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
The US unemployment rate fell from 5.9% to 5.4%. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA (SIPA USA/PA Images)

European stock markets nudged higher on Friday in the wake of stronger-than-expected US jobs data.

Data published at 1.30pm London time showed the US added 943,000 new jobs to the national payroll in July, which was above the 870,000 forecast by economists. The unemployment rate fell from 5.9% to 5.4%, well below expectations of a fall to 5.7%.

The news helped Wall Street rally at the open. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up 0.6% after half an hour of trade, while the Dow Jones (^DJI) and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) both gained 0.8%.

Read more: US economy adds back 943,000 payrolls, unemployment rate falls to 5.4%


The increase in non-farm payrolls in the US shows its economy continues to recover and allows the Federal Reserve to continue with its plans to be in full accommodation mode until September and only then start to look at beginning to taper," said Hinesh Patel, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors.

"However, these figures may be masking something a little more troubling for the US economy. The recent surge in Delta cases will not be picked up by these numbers and as such employment figures will remain a little volatile and difficult to interpret. This could even be somewhat of a highpoint for US employment for some time."

European markets ticked higher on the back of the US jobs numbers. Stock markets had spent the morning flat but the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was up 0.1% by mid-afternoon, while the CAC 40 (^FCHI) was up 0.5% in Paris and Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) rose 0.2% in Frankfurt.

Read more: UK house price growth cools as stamp duty boom fades

Investors are midway through half-year earnings season but Friday marked a quiet day for corporate updates in Europe. The only major company to report was the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG.L). The exchange operator reported a rise in income when foreign exchange impacts are factored in and hiked its dividend by 7% to 25p a share. Chief executive David Schwimmer said the integration of data giant Refinitiv was progressing well. Shares rose 3.3%.

A pedestrian walks past the logo for the London Stock Exchange Group outside the stock exchange in London on December 29, 2020. - The London stock market soared on December 29 as investors gave their initial verdict on Britain's Brexit deal with the EU, while eurozone equities also rose on upbeat US stimulus news, with Frankfurt extending its record breaking run. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
European stock markets nudged higher on Friday in the wake of stronger-than-expected US jobs data. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty (TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images)

Asian markets were mixed overnight. Japan's Nikkei (^N225) rose 0.3% as the country's leading economic index beat forecasts, pointing to strong momentum.

Elsewhere, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was flat and mainland Chinese stocks fell. The Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) and Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) both lost a third of a percent.

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