U.S. jobs report boosts European stocks

LONDON (Reuters) - A strong jobs report out of the U.S. boosted European shares on Friday after a sluggish start to trading, while U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum hit steelmakers.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

It was strong wage growth last month that fanned speculation of faster rate rises in the United States, causing a rout in the bond market and hammering world equities.

But the jobs report for February showed much slower than expected wage growth, soothing investors who had been concerned about a faster rate of inflation.

The jobs report sent stocks higher across Europe as the slowdown in wage gains pointed to inflation rising only gradually. The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX was up 0.4 percent by the close.

“The monthly employment report delivered a number of surprises, many of them running contra to historic performances during the late stages of an economic expansion,” said BNY Mellon analysts.

Interest-rate sensitive high dividend-paying stocks such as Unilever UNc.AS, Nestle NESN.S, and British American Tobacco BATS.L were among the top boosts to the STOXX 600.

While the basic resources sector .SXPP was the best-performing, steelmakers were notable laggards: Voestalpine VOES.VI, Outokumpu OUT1V.HE and Arcelormittal MT.AS fell 0.6 to 1.5 percent after the new U.S. tariffs.

Industrials stocks .SXNP, which had been the worst-hit by fears of an international trade war, were the biggest boost to the index as the worst-case scenario was averted by Trump accepting exemptions to the steel and aluminum tariff.

Airbus AIR.PA gained 1.3 percent, while BAE Systems BAES.L rose 2.2 percent, helped by the finalization of talks between Britain and Saudi Arabia on a multi-billion pound order for 48 Typhoon aircraft made by the defense contractor.

Oil stocks .SXEP also rose as crude prices gained on signs of a detente between the U.S. and North Korea

Oil services stocks were the best-performing. TechnipFMC FTI.PA rose 4.4 percent to the top of the CAC 40, while Wood Group WG.L rose 3.8 percent.

A number of corporate updates were badly received by investors, however.

Shares in Lagardere LAGA.PA, the French media group behind Paris Match and Europe 1 radio, suffered the biggest decline on the Stoxx, down 7.3 percent after disappointing annual results.

French energy services and electrical engineering company Spie SPIE.PA lost 5.5 percent after its margin outlook for 2018 disappointed investors.

Lufthansa LHAG.DE shares fell 5.7 percent after the airline reported February passenger data. The stock had its worst day in four weeks after the passenger yield came in lower than expected.

Germany's DAX .GDAXI was a laggard, down 0.1 percent after the country's industrial output fell unexpectedly for the second month in a row.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg