London - European shares steadied in early trading on Friday, with many investors waiting for US jobs data to provide fresh clues to health of the economy and help set the market's near-term direction.
Non-farm payrolls are forecast to have risen by 149,000 in February, up from the weather-depressed gains of 113,000 in January. Analysts said expectations may have been lowered by the soft ADP private-sector jobs report and ISM services sector survey released earlier this week.
IG expected the jobs number to rise to 185,000, higher than the market consensus, while KBC saw the figure at 200,000.
“A disappointing number will be neglected by investors as February was still adversely impacted by winter weather,” Ruland Research analyst Heino Ruland, said.
“In the near term, I am quite bullish for equities. It becomes clearer by the day that growth resumed in the euro area, even though below potential growth, which means that interest rates will begin rising but stay comparatively low thereby increasing the relative attractiveness of equity valuations.”
Medical technology group Getinge slumped 15 percent after it said first quarter earnings would be hit by an adverse mix of higher costs for consultants, lower invoicing, production problems and currency headwinds.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.05 percent at 1,343.62 points by 10:04 SA time. - Reuters