European shares nudge higher before U.S. payrolls data, ECB meeting

Thu Jul 3, 2014 6:14am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.2 pct

* Ingenico jumps on talks to buy GlobalCollect

* ECB expected to keep rates at record lows

* U.S. payrolls seen up 212,000, 5th month above 200,000

By Blaise Robinson

PARIS, July 3 (Reuters) - European stocks crept higher on Thursday, adding to the week's gains, as investors waited to see U.S. payrolls figures and the outcome of a European Central Bank policy meeting.

Shares in French IT systems group Ingenico jumped 6.8 percent after it said it was in talks to buy GlobalCollect, an Amsterdam-based provider of online-payment services, for an enterprise value of 820 million euros ($1.12 billion).

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up by 0.3 percent at 1,389.34 points by the middle of the trading day, putting it close to the 6 1/2-year high of 1,399.62 points it reached in late June.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also rose 0.4 percent to 3,265.20 points.

Many traders were looking for details of the ECB's new stimulus measures from the central bank's meeting on Thursday. The 24-member Governing Council is unlikely to take fresh policy action after reducing interest rates to record lows last month - with the deposit rate cut to below zero - and revealing a 400 billion-euro ($545.62 billion) loan programme.

Many investors have said they expect further gains for European stock markets later this year, as the ECB's measures help offset lingering signs of weakness within the euro zone's economic bloc.

"I don't see any catalyst to have a negative view on equities," said Luc Bocahut, portfolio manager at Monaco-based Tiverton Trading.

U.S. DATA

Traders were also waiting for U.S. non-farm payrolls employment data due at 1230 GMT.

According to a Reuters poll of economists, payrolls probably increased by 212,000 in June, marking the fifth consecutive month of job gains above 200,000. That would bolster views that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum.

On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report, considered a pointer to the payrolls report, showed U.S. companies hired 281,000 workers in June. The increase was the biggest monthly gain since November 2012 and well above expectations.

"It's wait-and-see this morning. The payrolls should be relatively strong, which would help eclipse the recent dismal quarterly growth figure," said Lionel Jardin, head of institutional sales at Paris-based Assya Capital.

Europe bourses in 2014: link.reuters.com/pap87v

Asset performance in 2014: link.reuters.com/gap87v

Today's European research round-up (Editing by Larry King)