Investing.com - European stocks were higher on Friday, supported by upbeat Chinese trade balance data, while investors eyed the release of a highly anticipated U.S. jobs report later in the day.
During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.82%, France’s CAC 40 jumped 0.83%, while Germany’s DAX 30 advanced 0.60%.
Stocks were boosted after official data showed that China's trade surplus narrowed less-than-expected in February, falling to USD15.3 billion from a surplus of USD29.2 the previous month. Analysts had expected the trade balance to fall into a deficit of USD8.8 billion last month.
Sentiment had strengthened on Thursday, after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said monetary policy will remain firmly accommodative and added that confidence was returning to financial markets.
In addition, data showing that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the U.S. fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, compared to expectations for an increase to 355,000, fuelled optimism over a recovery in the U.S. labor market.
Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in French lenders Societe Generale and BNP Parinas jumped 1.12% and 1.47%, while Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerbank advanced 0.91% and 0.99% respectively.
Peripheral lenders added to gains, with Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit adding 0.11% and 1.46%, while Spain's Banco Santander and BBVA rallied 1.04% and 1.08%.
Elsewhere, Fugro soared 13.65% after the deepwater-oilfield surveyor reported full-year net income of EUR292 million, beating the average analyst estimate of EUR282 million.
In London, FTSE 100 climbed 0.57%, as U.K. lenders tracked their European counterparts higher.
Shares in the Royal Bank of Scotland rose 0.53% and Barclays advanced 1.11%, while Lloyds Banking and HSBC Holdings surged 1.38% and 1.77% respectively.
Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were also on the upside, adding 0.57% and 0.63%, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys rallied 1.20% and 0.73%.
In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a higher open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.49% increase, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.29% rise, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.22% gain.
Later in the day, Germany was to release official data on industrial production, while the U.S. was publish government data on nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate, as well as data on average hourly earnings.