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European Stock Futures Edge Higher; U.S. Payrolls Loom Large

European stock markets are seen edging higher at the open Friday, boosted by strong trade data out of China but with investors cautious ahead of the key monthly U.S. employment report.

At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.1% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. rose 0.2%.

Stock markets have climbed to record levels of late--the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high on Wall Street on Thursday--as economic data has pointed to a strong global recovery.

This continued Friday as China posted an impressive trade performance in April, with exports surging 32.3% from a year ago as global demand for Chinese goods remained elevated as countries emerged from the restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The focus now shifts to the release of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report later for another illustration of the economic bounce. Expectations are running high, maybe to the tune of one million jobs being added, after a release Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims last week for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since the pandemic started.

Friday’s report is widely watched as the Federal Reserve has made it clear that the strength of the labor market recovery is key in deciding its course for monetary policy.

Back in Europe, German industrial production rose 2.5% in March, above expectations, while eyes will also be on the equivalent French number as well as the U.K. April construction PMI reading.

It’s also another busy day for earnings, with Credit Agricole (OTC:CRARY) likely to be in focus after

France’s second-largest bank by assets posted a sharp increase in net profit for the first quarter, as revenue rose and provisions for potential credit losses fell.

German industrial giant Siemens (DE:SIEGn) raised its full year guidance for the second time this year as its net profit soared for the second quarter of fiscal 2021, helped by the sale of its mechanical-drives business Flender.

BMW (DE:BMWG) reiterated its full-year profit margin outlook Friday, but the German carmaker said that it expected the rest of the year to remain volatile and that rising raw material costs could hurt earnings moving forward.

The pharmaceutical sector could stay in the spotlight Friday following the news Thursday that the European Union backed talks over waiving patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, following a U.S. proposal.

Oil prices headed higher Friday, heading for another weekly gain as the robust trade data from China highlighted the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

U.S. crude futures traded 0.5% higher at $65.02 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 0.5% to $68.44. Both contracts are up more than 2% this week, heading for their first back-to-back weekly increases since early March.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,820.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.2061.

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