European Shares Edge Up on U.S. Jobs, Fed Talks


European shares nudged higher on Monday, pegged back by heavy falls in BSkyB and RSA , as investors considered the implications of a strong U.S. jobs report on the outlook for the Fed's monetary stimulus.

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Stronger than forecast October non-farm payrolls data and pacy U.S. growth data have led some analysts to bring forward their expectations of when the Federal Reserve will start to reduce its bond-buying, which has supported equity markets.

Britain's dominant pay-TV operator BSkyB shed 9.6 percent to 840.4 pence in brisk trade, topping the FTSEurofirst 300 fallers' list, as investors recoiled from the group's loss of Champions League soccer to BT.

Analysts said the defeat also raised the likelihood that BSkyB would have to bid very aggressively to keep its Premier League rights when that next comes up for auction.

Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital, saw BSkyB shares as a short-term "sell", but with appeal over the longer-term.

"I personally don't think BT have got enough firepower and enough appetite to take on Sky... they're going into Sky's core market ... I imagine Sky going to go down to the 750 (pence) range, but I would think it would be a recovery from there."

Trading volume in BSkyB stood at 311 percent of its 90-day daily average, against the FTSEurofirst 300 on 35 percent.

Britain's largest general insurer RSA was also left nursing heavy falls. It was off 9 percent on news it is probing losses and premiums at its Irish unit stretching back at least two years after an internal audit of the business triggered the group's second profit warning in a week.

Trading volume in RSA was a hefty 643 percent of its 90-day daily average.

The FTSEurofirst 300 nevertheless nudged into positive territory, up 0.1 percent at 1,296.86 points by 1157 GMT. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50, meanwhile, firmed 0.2 percent to 3,039.90 points.

Investors are still assessing the October jobs report for clues to when the Fed will start to reduce its $85 billion-a-month stimulus, which could hit riskier assets such as stocks.

Some analysts highlighted downbeat elements to the data, which also showed a surprisingly large number of Americans dropping out of the labour force.

"European stocks remain a buy ... Even though the fundamentals remain weak there is not much to stop them from rallying into year-end, including a supportive Fed which might well not start tapering until March next year," said Lex van Dam, hedge fund manager at Hampstead Capital.

Technical analysts were bullish on the Euro STOXX 50, trading just above its 20-day moving average, at 3,036.

Craig Erlam, analyst at Alpari, said this helped build a picture of the bullish trend for the index remaining intact, and targeted 3,106, the five-year high hit last week.