- US adds fewer jobs, unemployment rate falls
- French industrial output grows
- UK construction output falls
- UK industrial and manufacturing output flat
FTSE 100: 0.22%
CAC 40: 0.26%
FTSE MIB: -0.71%
IBEX 35: 0.22%
Stoxx 600: -0.05%
European stocks were little changed as investors digested data that showed the US unemployment rate fell unexpectedly in December while employers added fewer jobs.
US non-farm payrolls increased by just 74,000 in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, significantly lower than the 241,000 gain in November, with poor weather conditions largely to blame.
It surprised analysts who had expected a reading closer to 193,000.
The unemployment rate declined to 6.7% last month from 7% in November, compared to the consensus forecasts for it to remain unchanged.
The data is likely to cause uncertainty on whether the Federal Reserve will announce a further scaling back of monetary stimulus after its policy meeting at the end of the month.
Last month the Fed said it would begin tapering monthly bond purchases by $10bn to $75bn and would gradually introduce more cuts provided economic data pointed to continued recovery.
MB Capital's Bullus said: "All bets are now off on the Fed's tapering plans. Many are now questioning whether it began to turn off the QE [quantitative easing] taps too soon. If Janet Yellen was hoping to have any kind of honeymoon period when she takes over the top job, she can forget it."
French industrial production
French industrial production expanded 1.3% in November, beating the 0.4% forecast, a report showed today.
UK construction output fell by 4% in November on a month-on-month basis, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), missing consensus for a 0.8% rise. In October output increased 2%.
Separately the ONS also revealed that British manufacturing and industrial output fell short of forecasts in November with both industries coming in flat on the month.
Economists had expected an increase of 0.4% for both sectors. In October the two industries achieved a 0.2% rise in output.
Deutsche Lufthansa gained after Europe's second-biggest airline said it expects costs per passenger to drop by 2% this year.
Red Electrica Corp. advanced after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the Spanish power-grid operator to 'equal weight' from 'underweight'.
Metro rallied following reports Franz Haniel & Cie. which owns 30% of the German retailer, may ask Metro to sell its Real, Kaufhof or Media-Saturn units.
Swatch advanced after the biggest maker of Swiss watches reported 2013 gross sales that beat expectations.
SES SA and Eutelsat Communications slumped as JP Morgan Chase & Co. downgraded the stocks to 'neutral' from 'overweight'.
Brenntag declined after UBS lowered its recommendation on the shares
to 'neutral' from 'buy'.
The euro rose 0.38% to $1.3660.
Brent crude futures gained $0.047 to $106.440 per barrel.