Arcelor lifts European shares ahead of U.S. jobs data

Fri Feb 7, 2014 4:13am EST

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.1 pct

* ArcelorMittal top gainer after raises profit forecast

* Optimism surrounds U.S. non-farm payrolls

* Skanska drags after orders lag

* Market dips briefly on German court referral of ECB bond buys

By Alistair Smout

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Heavyweight steelmaker ArcelorMittal helped European shares edge to a second day of gains on Friday, supported by hopes that jobs data later in the day will reveal a brightening picture for the U.S. economy.

World no.1 ArcelorMittal - regarded as a gauge for the health of global manufacturing - was the pan European FTSEurofirst 300's top gainer with a rise of 4 percent after forecasting higher profits in the year ahead.

The gains helped to lift German blue-chip steelmaker ThyssenKrupp up 2.5 percent.

But peer SSAB fell 1.7 percent after reporting its sixth straight quarterly loss with slowing growth in China, though it said the hard-hit European steel market had bottomed out.

The market briefly dipped after Germany's Constitutional court referred the European Central Bank's bond-buying programme to the European Court, saying it saw reasons to suggest the scheme went beyond the ECB's mandate.

The FTSEurofirst 300 was up 0.1 percent at 1,291.22 at 0855 GMT, building on the previous session's 1.5 percent rally, which was the biggest daily gain since mid December

Basic resources stocks rose 1.3 percent, the top sectoral gainer in Europe.

"For Arcelor, the numbers were a bit a better for Q4, and the outlook isn't horrific, so the stock's having a nice pop. But equally, for SSAB, losses continue, and they're talking about slower demand from Asia," Nick Xanders, who heads up European equity strategy at BTIG, said.

"The move in ArcelorMittal looks a bit excessive, but people are relieved that it could have been a lot worse."

EYES ON PAYROLLS

Investors were hopeful that U.S. jobs data would show signs of improving economic growth, after Thursday's encouraging initial jobless claims data fuelled strong gains on Wall Street.

While Thursday's data has no direct bearing on January's employment report, as it falls outside the survey period, it boosted the outlook for the world's largest economy.

"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," Markus Huber, senior trader at Peregrine & Black, said.

Non-farm payrolls are expected to have increased by 185,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists. This would offer assurance that economic growth was not faltering.

Chatter in the market was of an even higher number, however, with Goldman Sachs predicting 200,000 and Societe Generale looking for 270,000.

The top faller was Skanska, down 3 percent, after the Nordic region's biggest builder said that the outlook for its markets was slowly improving after it posted fourth-quarter order intake below expectations.

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