Shares rally on US job hopes

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Bullsandbears REUTERS A bull and a bear styrofoam figurine.

Paris - Stocks gained ground on Friday to further recover from a steep two-week selloff, buoyed by expectations that a January US jobs report will soothe recent concerns over the pace of global growth.

The euro dipped to a session low against the dollar while German bund futures rose after Germany's Constitutional Court referred the European Central Bank's flagship bond-buying programme to the European Court.

Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.2 percent in morning trade in Europe, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.9 percent and Tokyo's Nikkei added 2.2 percent.

The gains mirrored a rally on Wall Street on Thursday, fuelled by data showing a drop in applications for US unemployment insurance, as well as robust corporate results.

While the data has no direct bearing on January's employment report, as it falls outside the survey period, it boosted the mood after the recent rout in emerging economies raised fresh concerns about the global growth outlook.

“After what we saw yesterday, we're going slightly 'long' into the data and if the figures are good, we expect a nice short squeeze,” said Markus Huber, senior trader at Peregrine & Black, referring to a situation where traders scramble to unwind negative bets on the market, helping push prices higher.

According to a Reuters' poll of economists, non-farm payrolls are expected to have increased by 185,000 last month, snapping back from December's three-year low, which could eclipse recent tepid US manufacturing data.

Emerging market equities were regaining ground on Friday, with the MSCI Emerging Market index up 0.7 percent, while battered currencies such as the Turkish lira and the South African rand were trading off recent lows.

Data from Thomson Reuters Lipper showed further massive outflows from emerging market equities, however, with US-based funds invested in emerging market stocks seeing redemptions of $2.7 billion during the seven-day period to February 5.

Alexandre Baradez, chief market analyst at IG France, warned about the risk that a lower-than-expected US payroll figure could send stocks dropping again.

“If you look at the last batch of US macro figures, it was quite sluggish, so the risk seems on the downside ahead of the payrolls data. This market correction is probably not over yet,” he said.

The euro fell to $1.3552, from around $1.3582 beforehand, and Bund futures rose as high as 144.02, up 69 ticks on the day, after German judges referred a complaint against the ECB's OMT bond-buying programme to the European Court.

Although the German court said it saw substantial reasons to suggest the OMT exceeds the ECB's mandate, the European Court has a reputation for giving federalist rulings that take a broad interpretation of European institutions' powers.

The announcement at the height of the bloc's sovereign debt crisis in September 2012 of the as-yet unused programme, which promises potentially unlimited sovereign bond purchases by the ECB, is widely credited with stabilising the euro.

On the commodities front, London copper was set to post its largest weekly rise this year, boosted by hopes the US jobs figures will calm fears about global growth.

Brent crude steadied above $107 a barrel, heading for its second weekly gain in three on optimism about the US jobs data.

Gold inched up, trading at $1,260.35 an ounce, as Chinese buyers came back into the market after a week-long holiday. - Reuters



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