LONDON – Stock markets were stuck almost unchanged early on Friday ahead of U.S. jobs data that will provide the last major signal on the state of the world's largest economy before voters go the polls on Tuesday.
Both European and world share indices were trading around their highest in two weeks and the dollar was just off a seven-week high, as positive data from the United States and China added to tentative signs of stabilization of the world economy.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares <.FTEU3> opened broadly flat at 1109.98 points, with London's FTSE 100 , Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX mixed as investors opted for caution ahead of the U.S. data.
Expectations for a strong reading from U.S. non-farm payrolls due at 08:30 am EDT have been bolstered by a better-than-expected ADP private sector employment report and ISM manufacturing index in the previous session.
"It (data) could be the trigger ... We had a liquidity driven run (in the summer) and now the markets are waiting for earnings to confirm the new positive view, so we have a sideways range with a positive basic ground tone," said Petra Kerssenbrock, analyst at Commerzbank.
Data showing a pick up in Chinese factory activity on Thursday drove Hong Kong and Shanghai to their best week a month or more and helped the MSCI world stocks index <.MIWD00000PUS> climb 0.1 percent to 332.0, its highest since October 23.
Positive U.S. private sector employment and consumer confidence reports in the previous session drove the dollar to within a few ticks of a seven-week high.
The euro was down 0.3 percent as investors waited for European PMI data expected to confirm sluggish activity.
German Bund futures were steady, down just 4 ticks at 141.67, remaining locked in their recent range as many investors shied away from taking large positions ahead of the U.S. jobs data.
(Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Patrick Graham)