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Europe: Stocks cede ground at open

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[LONDON] European equities beat a retreat at the start of trade on Friday, as investors nervously eyed upcoming key jobs data in the United States and a weekend referendum in Italy.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index lost nearly 0.8 per cent to 6,701.97 points in initial deals.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.9 per cent to 10,436.48 points and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 0.7 per cent to 4,527.84 compared with Thursday's close.

Milan's FTSE MIB index meanwhile sank 0.9 per cent to 16,940.98 points ahead of the crunch vote in Italy.

Market voices on:

On Sunday, Italy goes to the polls for a referendum on constitutional reform, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying he will resign if his government loses, leading to a possible general election.

Asian stocks also turned negative Friday and oil prices retreated along with the dollar as investors took a step back from a recent rally before key US jobs data.

The US will later publish its November jobs report, which could give an indication of the Federal Reserve's plans for interest rates over the next year.