European stocks edged lower on Friday as declines in the technology sector more than offset gains in oil and auto shares, while investors remained cautious ahead of US payrolls data.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.3%, with tech stocks falling about 1% as rising bond yields dimmed the high-growth sector’s appeal.
US jobs data, set to be issued at 1230 GMT, is expected to show a surge in hiring in September as the effects of the latest COVID-19 surge began to subside.
While strong numbers could cement the case for the US Federal Reserve’s withdrawal of its support for the economy, many analysts expect that even a second straight weak employment report would be unlikely to derail the central bank from announcing a slowdown of its bond purchases later this year .
“If we do move to head towards tightening monetary…the tech sector is likely to suffer the most from an interest rate hike because they have a relatively high portion of debt when compared with other sectors,” said David Madden, market analyst for Equiti Capital in London.
“There wasn’t a massive rush in Asia overnight so there isn’t a huge influence or reason to buy into European stock markets this morning.”
Still, the European stocks benchmark was on course for modest weekly gains as relief over a temporary lifting of the US debt ceiling countered worries that soaring energy costs would push inflation higher.
Oil & gas stocks jumped 0.8% as crude prices rose on doubts the US government would release oil from its strategic reserves.
UK travel stocks, including British-Airways owner IAG, Whitbread and Ryanair, gained between 0.2% and 2.8% after Britain was set to scrap tough COVID-19 quarantine requirements for 47 destinations.
Czech trucking services firm Eurowag fell 9% in its London market debut after floating a day late and at a cut price.
Auto stocks rose 1.2%, rebounding from a selloff in September on concerns about supply chain bottlenecks and chip shortages hitting production.
German carmaker Daimler rose 2.5% as UBS upgraded its stock to “buy” from “neutral” and hiked its price target to 100 euros from 79 euros.
Cnova NV, the e-commerce arm of French retailer Casino, fell 5.5% after saying it could no longer confirm its June financial forecast due to challenging third-quarter business conditions. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sriraj Kalluvila)