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Europe: Stock markets close mixed
[LONDON] Europe's main stock markets were mixed at Thursday's close amid tepid US jobs data, and ahead of Greece's weekend referendum on its bailout.
London's FTSE 100 index ended the day up 0.33 per cent to 6,630.47 points compared with Wednesday's close, buoyed in part by oil giant BP's 4.47 per cent jump on news it agreed to settle US federal and state claims worth up to US$18.7 billion over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
In eurozone trading, Frankfurt's DAX 30 ended 0.73 per cent lower at 11,099.35 points and in Paris the CAC 40 lost 0.98 per cent in value to finish at 4,835.56 points.
In foreign exchange trade, the euro rose to $1.1101 from $1.1053 late in New York on Wednesday.
Wall Street stocks were also mixed in late morning trade Thursday, after the Labor Department reported the US economy added 223,000 jobs in June - a positive but somewhat lower figure than anticipated.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.11 per cent at 17,737.58 and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.27 per cent to 4,999.81.
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.69 per cent to 2,077.42.
While the headline US jobs number came in above the key 200,000 benchmark, the overall report was mixed. Average hourly earnings were flat compared with May and the Labor Department cut its estimates for job growth in April and May.
The payrolls report tempered views of how rapidly the US economy is gaining strength, and moderated expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, possibly in September.
"These figures aren't low enough to completely throw out the notion of a rate hike this year; in fact they point to a steady situation in the jobs sector, especially if the fall to 5.3 per cent unemployment is factored in. However, the return to stagnant wage growth and a jump in unemployment claims show that the job (pardon the pun) isn't completely done," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.
But while the US job numbers may have been on the end of independent forecasts, some observers said their publication played a positive psychological role among worried investors.
"The non-farm payrolls report provides a welcome distraction from Greece," noted David Madden, market analyst at IG trading group.
"Greece may be out of the spotlight for the time being, but it should not be forgotten, and this weekend could be the end of the line for Greece and the euro," he added.
Greece's radical left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a referendum Sunday that could decide the country's financial future.
Although Athens insists the referendum focuses narrowly on tough austerity conditions attached to a bailout that expired on Tuesday, EU leaders say it is a vote on whether Greece wants to remain in the euro.
International creditors and markets are stepping back after days of dizzying drama over the Greek crisis to watch the outcome of the vote at the weekend.
In a volatile week's trading, European stock markets rebounded on Wednesday as Greece proposed a reworked deal on its bailout that was closer to the position of its creditors.
Thursday was another day, however.
"Eurozone markets appear to be correcting themselves after yesterday's now almost endearingly optimistic growth, with the growing realisation of the gravity of Sunday's referendum also playing its part," said Mr Campbell.
Asian markets closed higher Thursday on hopes for a deal to keep Greece in the eurozone, but Shanghai tumbled again despite authorities relaxing trading rules to temper recent volatility.