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EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Rally On Solid U.S. Jobs Data

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch LONDON (MarketWatch) -- After five days mired in the red, European stock markets moved higher on Friday, after U.S. jobs data showed that the labor market is stronger than expected, with both nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate beating forecasts. The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.7% to close at 316.50, trimming its weekly loss to 2.7%. Shares of Berkeley Group Holdings PLC rallied 11% after the home-building company said fiscal first-half revenue rose 20%. Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) climbed 2.9% after HSBC initiated coverage of the oil major with an overweight rating. HSBC also started coverage of Total SA (TOT), up 0.9%, BP PLC (BP), 0.5% higher, and BG Group PLC , up 1.1%, with overweight ratings. Oil prices were also on the rise. The analysts said the sector remains out of favor with investors, but that the companies' robust underlying cash flows aren't being recognized. Surprise from U.S. jobs data More broadly, the European stock indexes initially swung between small gains and losses after the U.S. jobs data, but moved after a few minutes decisively into positive territory. With the report showing 203,000 jobs were added to the economy in November and the joblessness rate dropped to 7%, both numbers beat analyst expectations and fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve could soon taper its $85-billion-a-month asset purchases. Ahead of the data, market participants worried that a strong labor-market report would stir a selloff because of the tapering argument, but investors instead focused on the improved outlook for the economy. Marcus Bullus, trading director at MB Capital, said in emailed comments that with "the U.S. economy piling on more than 200,000 jobs in three out of the past four months, and the recovery now well and truly entrenched, the markets have had plenty of time to factor in the withdrawal" of QE. Additionally, the fact that the economy has been able to surge over hurdles like the government shutdown, he said, adds to the case that it will take tapering in its stride just as easily. "Tapering is coming, but it holds ever less fear for the bulls," he added. U.S. stocks traded higher on Wall Street. Europe movers Among country-specific indexes in Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.8% to 6,551.99, but fell 1.5% on the week. France's CAC 40 index gained 0.7% to 4,129.37 and posted a 3.9% weekly loss, while Germany's DAX 30 index picked up 1% to 9,172.41, closing out the week 2.5% lower. Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) helped boost the U.K. benchmark, rising 2.1% after Berenberg lifted the telecom firm to buy from hold and Exane BNP Paribas upgraded it to neutral from underperform. Exane also upgraded Deutsche Telekom AG to outperform from neutral, sending the shares 1.7% higher in Frankfurt. Shares of STMicroelectronics NV dropped 1.7% in Paris after NYSE Euronext said late Thursday the chip maker will be removed from the CAC 40 index and be replaced by Alcatel-Lucent effective Dec. 23. Alcatel shares were up 0.8%. Outside the major indexes, shares of Nestle SA (NSRGY) rose 1.1% after the food company said it is selling its 10% stake in flavors and fragrances maker Givaudan SA valued at nearly 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.3 billion). Givaudan shares lost 2.1%. More must-reads from MarketWatch: What bubble? Corporate profits reach new record as share of GDP Spotify plans free mobile version of its service Year-end tax tips for retirees and preretirees Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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