European stocks set for muted open; key U.S. jobs report ahead

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LONDON — European markets were flat on Friday morning as investors tracked corporate earnings and awaited a key U.S. jobs report.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 was little changed in early trade. Travel and leisure stocks gained 0.7% while oil and gas stocks fell 0.8%.

Markets have endured a cautious week as investors reacted to a slew of corporate earnings. The European blue chip index closed the previous session fractionally above the flatline.

The Bank of England on Thursday hiked interest rates by 50 basis points while forecasting U.K. inflation to peak above 13% in October and the economy to enter a prolonged recession in the fourth quarter.

Friday’s U.S. jobs report, due at 1:30 p.m. London time, will likely offer clues about the Federal Reserve‘s monetary tightening path and the state of the U.S. economy.

Economists expect 258,000 jobs were added in July, down from 372,000 in June, according to Dow Jones. Unemployment is anticipated to hold steady at 3.6%. 

Stock futures stateside were cautiously higher in early premarket trading as Wall Street looks to eke out modest gains for the week.

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Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher overnight, with Taiwanese stocks leading gains in the region as investors shook off China’s military drills following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Earnings continue to drive individual share price movement in Europe. Allianz, the London Stock Exchange Group and WPP were among the companies reporting before the bell on Friday.

On the data front, French industrial output unexpectedly rose in June, posting a strong 1.4% monthly increase despite forecasts for a 0.2% contraction amid persistent supply chain problems and the energy crisis.

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