EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Fall From 21-month High Ahead Of U.S. Jobs, French Election

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Oil prices send energy stocks on rollercoaster ride

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European stocks dropped on Friday, easing back from an almost 21-month high as investors took a cautious approach ahead of the French election and the latest U.S. jobs data.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.3% to 390.71, after closing at the highest level since August 2015 on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-flirt-with-almost-21-month-high-after-earnings-deluge-2017-05-04).

The pan-European benchmark was still on track for a 0.9% weekly advance, boosted by well-received earnings reports and hopes that centrist Emmanuel Macron will beat far-right Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential election in France.

Read:Brace for market mayhem if Le Pen unexpectedly wins French presidency (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/brace-for-market-mayhem-if-le-pen-unexpectedly-wins-french-presidency-2017-05-04)

France's CAC 40 index on Thursday scored its highest close since January 2008, but stumbled 0.4% to 5,352.90 in Friday's trade.

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Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.2% to 12,626.19, after closing at a record high on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index traded 0.1% higher at 7,252..56 on Friday.

Read:European equities a buy, but watch for this Trump risk: Eaton Vance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-equities-a-buy-but-trump-policy-inaction-a-risk-eaton-vance-2017-05-03)

Oil turnaround: After settling at the lowest level in five months on Thursday, oil prices started to rebound in European trading hours.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.5% at $45.75, erasing a more than 3% slump earlier in the day. For the week, the contract was set for a more than 9% slide.

Read:OPEC faces high-stakes decision as oil drops to 5-month low (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/opec-faces-high-stakes-decision-as-oil-drops-to-5-month-low-2017-05-04)

Shares of oil companies trimmed their losses as crude prices turned positive. BP PLC (BP.LN) (BP.LN) lost 0.2%, Total SA (TOT) (TOT) rose 0.5%, and Eni SpA (ENI.MI) added 0.1%.

Other stock movers: Shares of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN)(IAG.LN) jumped 4.2% after the British Airways and Iberia parent said operating profit got a boost from lower fuel prices in the first quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/iag-profit-edges-higher-on-lower-fuel-costs-2017-05-05).

Also in the airline industry, budget carrier easyJet PLC (EZJ.LN) rose 3.1% after reporting a 12% rise in passenger traffic for April.

Pearson PLC (PSON.LN) (PSON.LN) surged 12% after the publishing company reported a rise in quarterly sales (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pearson-sales-up-6-holds-to-guidance-2017-05-05) and confirmed its full-year outlook.

Vestas Wind Systems AS (VWS.KO) climbed 3.2%. The Danish wind-turbine manufacturer beat earnings forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/vestas-beats-forecasts-on-strong-us-china-sales-2017-05-05) after a quarter of strong sales in the U.S., Germany and China.

Struggling Italian lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMPS.MI) said late Thursday it swung to a loss in the first quarter (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/monte-dei-paschi-swings-to-quarterly-loss-2017-05-05), hurt by declining revenue and one-time costs. Its shares are still halted after the company had to ask the Italian government for a bailout in December.

Economic news: The key report on Friday is the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due at 1:30 p.m. London time, or 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Analysts polled by MarketWatch expect 190,000 jobs were added to the economy in April, which should be enough to strengthen the case for the Federal Reserve (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hiring-rebound-what-to-watch-in-april-jobs-report-2017-05-04)to raise interest rates again soon.

"Nonfarm payrolls is forecast to be an announcement that will not cause too many shocks, however add in the second round runoff of the French Presidential election and this is a recipe for a consolidation," said Richard Perry, markets analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

The euro traded at $1.0974, down from $1.0986 late Thursday in New York.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 05, 2017 04:37 ET (08:37 GMT)