World stocks off early highs ahead of U.S. jobs

Fri Oct 7, 2011 7:17am EDT
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By Sebastian Tong

LONDON (Reuters) - European stocks were flat on Friday, losing early steam ahead of mid-day U.S. employment data but the euro clung to gains from a two-cent rally after euro zone policymakers moved to shore up struggling banks to fend off a financial crisis.

Aggressive liquidity measures unveiled Thursday by the European Central Bank (ECB) to help lenders facing straitened wholesale funding conditions further bolstered investor confidence after the European Union's pledge earlier this week to present a plan for a coordinated recapitalization of the region's banks.

But ahead of the 1230 GMT release of September's U.S. jobs report -- expected to show dismally weak employment -- few are willing to place big bets.

The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top European shares seesawed but eased from an early high of 947.52 points while world stocks .MIWO00000PUS ticked 0.3 percent higher, on track for a two-percent rise on the week.

S&P 500 index futures eased a touch while German Bund futures rose after a sharp sell-off in the previous session.

"It will take a really negative payrolls data for the risk off trade to return," said Geoff Kendrick, currency strategist at Nomura.

The euro, which has fallen back from a 2011 peak near $1.50 in May, was up slightly around $1.3429, after jumping from a low of $1.3240 on Thursday.

"Market pricing of a financial Armageddon has been pared back after yesterday's ECB measures, but structurally the euro could still head back toward multi-month lows," said Kendrick.   Continued...

<p>A man walks down a staircase near a stock ticker in the lobby of the London Stock Exchange, in central London September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Hackett</p>