LONDON – The bleak outlook for the European economy knocked the euro and stalled gains the region's share markets on Friday, as investors waited to see if nonfarm payrolls data in the United States might affect its monetary policy plans.
A day after the European Central Bank cut its forecasts for growth across the 17-nation euro area next year, Germany's Bundesbank said there was a chance the region's debt crisis could send Europe's biggest economy into recession.
The euro dropped 0.25 percent to a low of $1.2932 after the Bundesbank statement, extending losses of over one percent seen on Thursday in reaction to the ECB's new forecasts which have heightened speculation of a early rate cut.
"It is unusual that a negative growth projection for the next year is offered before the end of the current year, but with such a view, markets are naturally pricing in an interest rate cut," said Daisuke Karakama, market economist for Mizuho Corporate Bank.
The main March 2013 German government bond futures contract, which had rallied sharply on the talk of an early ECB rate, was about 3 ticks lower at 145.66, with traders cutting back positions ahead of the U.S. jobs data.
European shares were fractionally higher in early trading, but mainly consolidating around the 18-month highs reached on Thursday on hopes of an improving economic performance in the global economy.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> of top European shares traded up 0.2 percent at 1,133.95 points, with Germany's Dax up 0.1 percent after the Bundesbank's announcement.
London's FTSE 100 , and Paris's CAC-40 opened flat to slightly higher, while a slight dip in U.S. stock futures hinted at a cautious Wall Street open.
Investors are focused on U.S. non-farm payrolls data, which is expected to show an addition of 93,000 jobs in November, probably dented by superstorm Sandy, against October's gain of 171,000. The figures, due at 1330 GMT, are also likely to show the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.9 percent.
Federal reserve policymakers are scheduled to meet Dec 11-12 to review monetary policy.
Brent crude meanwhile was steady above $107 per barrel, but prices were headed for their biggest weekly loss in more than a month on the worries about the euro zone's economy and on-going concerns about the looming fiscal crisis in the United States, the world's top oil consumer.
Brent rose 0.1 percent to $107.14. while U.S. crude futures inched up 0.2 percent to $86.41 a barrel.
(Reporting by Richard Hubbard; editing by Philippa Fletcher)