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European Stock Futures Largely Unchanged; U.S. Jobs Data in Focus

European stock markets are expected to open largely unchanged Friday, with investors cautious ahead of the release of key U.S. jobs data which could provide fresh clues into the timing of Federal Reserve tapering.

At 2:15 AM ET (0615 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 futures in France fell 0.1% and the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. traded largely unchanged.

The monthly official U.S. employment report is scheduled for release later Friday, and is expected to show a rebound in the labor market, allowing the Federal Reserve to slow its massive bond-buying program. Wednesday’s strong ADP private payrolls release already hinted at robust job gains, although the correlation between the two reports has weakened during the pandemic.

The economy is expected to have added 500,000 jobs in September, a sharp jump from the 235,000 jobs added in August.

European markets had received a positive handover from Asia after Chinese mainland markets reopened from a week-long holiday and the country’s services sector made a return to growth in September. The Caixin services purchasing managers index came in at 53.4 in September, compared with the previous month’s 46.7.

Wall Street also closed sharply higher Thursday on the back of the U.S. Senate approving legislation to temporarily raise the federal government's debt limit and avoid the risk of a historic default.

In the corporate sector, Stellantis (DE:8TI) will be in the spotlight after the auto giant announced it is considering spinning off the two biggest plants of its Opel unit, a move seen by unions as a preliminary to their permanent closure. The Eisenach plant has already been shut until the end of the year due to chip shortages.

Crude prices pushed higher once more Friday, heading for a seventh weekly gain, as doubts emerged over whether the U.S. Energy Department was considering releasing oil from the country’s strategic reserves.

The potential for the U.S. adding supply to the market had been floated Thursday as a method of curbing oil prices. These have climbed to multi-year highs on the back of signs of improved fuel demand as economic activity rebounds, OPEC producers only gradually increasing output as well as fears that a cold winter will further strain gas supplies.

By 2:15 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.6% higher at $79.53 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.3% to $83.05. Earlier in the week, WTI touched its highest in nearly seven years while Brent Oil Futures hit a three-year high.

Additionally, gold futures edged higher to $1,759.55/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1547.

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