Europe Markets: European stocks and U.S. futures climb ahead of eagerly awaited jobs data

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European stocks and U.S. futures climbed early on Thursday, as investors anticipated encouraging jobs data and held on to hopes of a vaccine.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 SXXP, +1.10% rose 1.3%, following strong gains in Asian markets overnight. The German DAX DAX, +1.79% was 2.1% up, the French CAC PX1, +1.48% was 1.8% higher, and the FTSE 100 UKX, +0.77% rose 0.8% after two consecutive days of losses for the U.K. index.

Sentiment shifted on Wednesday as Pfizer PFE, +3.18% and BioNTech BNTX, -3.89% announced positive trial results for a potential coronavirus vaccine, buoying investors around the world. Better than expected economic data from China, Australia and the eurozone also helped lift the mood.

The positive momentum continued into Thursday, as attention turned to the latest U.S. jobs report set to be published later in the day. Economists expect the U.S. economy to gain more than 3 million jobs in June, according to FactSet estimates, building on the surprise addition of 2.5 million jobs in May. “While today’s numbers will be eagerly anticipated they still can’t disguise the effect that the pandemic has had on the U.S. economy as well as the wider labor market,” CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said. He added that estimates varied widely from just under a million to as high as 8 million jobs.

Coronavirus cases continued to rise in countries around the world, with the U.S. posting a record daily increase of 50,000 on Wednesday.

Rony Nehme, chief market analyst at SquaredFinancial, said it indicated that “for now markets are just focusing on the good news and are not too bothered [by] the rise in cases of COVID-19.”

Stocks to watch

Associated British Foods A, -0.29% stocks surged 6.4% as the conglomerate said Primark stores had reopened and that recent sales trends were “reassuring and encouraging.” Sales in the third quarter fell 39% to £2.6 billion ($3.3 billion) but strong performance in its grocery and ingredients business offset a 75% fall in retail.

DS Smith SMDS, -7.56% fell 6.9%, despite strong lockdown demand in e-commerce helping the packaging supplier to boost full-year profit by 5%. However, sales to industrial customers have fallen and the company canceled its final dividend payment.

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