* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.7 pct after 4 days of falls
* Nestle offers biggest boost after Givaudan stake sale
* Markets still on track for worst week since June
By Toni Vorobyova
LONDON, Dec 6 European equities rose on Friday,
snapping their longest losing streak in six months thanks to a
rally in Swiss food firm Nestle and robust U.S. jobs
The United States added 203,000 non-farm payrolls last
month, with markets interpreting the number - above consensus
but well within the 125,000 to 230,000 forecast range - as being
solid enough to back an economic recovery but not so strong as
to prompt an immediate scaling back of Federal Reserve stimulus.
The FTSEurofirst 300, which had been flat just before the
data on worries that the Fed could taper its bond purchases as
soon as this month, turned higher to close up 0.7 percent at
"It leaves the market with the possibility of interpreting -
for tapering to happen now, to happen in January and to happen
in March are all very feasible and that's why the market is
taking it positively," said Steen Jakokbsen, CIO at Saxo Bank.
"It's strong but it's not strong enough for the economy to
have escape velocity. It's not strong enough for the doves on
the Federal Reserve to actually make a move, but it's probably
strong enough to give a vindication to people who want to move."
The stocks rise snapped a four-day losing streak, the
longest down-run since June, and put the FTSEurofirst 300 on
track for its biggest one-day gain in three weeks.
Offering the biggest single stock boost to the index,
heavyweight Nestle added 1.1 percent after saying it was selling
its 10 percent stake in Swiss fragrance and flavour maker
The sale potentially frees up to 1.08 billion Swiss francs
($1.20 billion) for share buybacks or acquisitions.
"They might as well... make better use of the capital,
whether it's buying another business or buying back shares,"
Nick Xanders, head of strategy at BTIG, said.
Givaudan shares fell 2.1 percent. L'Oreal, in
which Nestle owns a 29.5 percent stake, rose 3.6 percent.
Energy stocks were boosted by higher crude prices and some
upbeat comments from HSBC, which started coverage of the
integrated oils sector.
"We think the outlook for cash flow and free cash is
stronger than is being discounted in the market," HSBC analysts
said in a note, awarding 'overweight' ratings to BP, BG
, Shell and Total.
However, Friday's gains were not enough to stop the
FTSEurofirst 300 from posting its biggest weekly drop since
June, with investors booking profits ahead of the year end.
Nonetheless, investors remain upbeat for 2014, with big
banks forecasting that an improving global economy will spark
double-digit earnings growth. Thus earnings will become the main
driver for stocks, enabling markets to take scaling back of
central bank stimulus in their stride.
"Most people are expecting that the taper will start sooner
rather than later, certainly by the early part of next year. But
it gets to a point where ultimately an improving U.S. economy
... that can continue to grow with reduced support from the Fed
has got to be a good thing," said Neil Marsh at Newedge.