September 5, 2014 / 10:46 AM / 3 years ago

European shares dip after ECB rally; eyes on U.S. payrolls

* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.6 pct, dips from 6-1/2 yr high

* Index set to post fourth weekly gain in a row

* Focus on U.S. jobs data at 1230 GMT

* Citi sees stocks as ‘super cheap’ relative to credit

By Francesco Canepa

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - European stocks fell on Friday as traders cashed in on recent gains, fuelled by fresh monetary stimulus in Europe, and awaited U.S. jobs data for insight on growth and future interest rates in the world’s largest economy.

After a surprise rate cut and other easing measures from the European Central bank on Thursday, the focus shifted to the outlook across the Atlantic, with investors weighing the prospect of stronger economic growth against the chance of early monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve.

Economists predict that nonfarm payrolls, due at 1230 GMT, increased 225,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey. That would mark the seventh straight of U.S. job expansion above 200,000 jobs - a stretch last witnessed in 1997.

Should employment meet expectations it would add to recent bullish data, though solid jobs growth alone would not be enough to persuade the Fed to move early on rates.

“If there’s a slight undershoot in the jobs number then the market might choose to use that an excuse to take money out,” Mike Franklin, investment strategist at Beaufort Securities, said.

At 1024 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.6 percent at 1,392.81 points, retreating from a 6-1/2 year high hit in the previous session but still set to record its fourth consecutive weekly gain.

Despite the day’s dip, Judith Danan, head of sales trading at CMC Markets France, said clients were strong buyers of France’s CAC 40, Spain’s IBEX and Italy’s MIB .

“The market is cheering the new ECB measures. That said, there’s no guarantee that this will be enough to boost the euro zone economy. It’s going to take time to measure the impact on consumer spending and capital expenditure,” she said.

In the longer term, Jonathan Stubbs, equity strategist at Citi, saw further gains in European stocks.

“European equities have returned 8 percent so far this year, recovering strongly from the recent summer sell-off as bad news - weaker macro data - has quickly become good news - more ECB liquidity,” he wrote in a note.

“European equities are... no longer cheap in absolute terms, but still super cheap relative to other asset classes, such as credit.”

As indexes moved in a tight range, private bank Julius Baer rose 1.4 percent in brisk volume as UBS upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral” while making the reverse change on larger rival Credit Suisse, down 1.5 percent.

Europe bourses in 2014:

Asset performance in 2014:

Today’s European research round-up

Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson in Paris; editing by John Stonestreet

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