By Barbara Kollmeyer
European stocks traded mostly higher on Friday, lifted by drug and energy companies, and after the latest American jobs numbers showed the resurgent pandemic is starting to dent that economy.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +1.00% rose 0.2%, after a mostly flat session on Thursday. The index has gained 0.8% this week to kick off the last trading month of 2021. The FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +1.12% led the regional indexes with a 0.7% gain, while the German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +1.43% was flat and the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +1.50% rose 0.3%.
The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.0073% climbed 0.2% to $1.3471, after Reuters reported , citing unnamed European Union officials, that a trade pact between the EU and the U.K. was “imminent.”
U.S. stocks were set to rise, on the heels of a mixed session on Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. drugmaker Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE -0.63% /zigman2/quotes/203243414/delayed UK:0Q1N -0.45% had run into supply-chain issues with the vaccine it is making with German partner BioNTech. Pfizer later denied that its vaccine production was suffering any new delays.
Drugmaker Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +2.53% said late on Thursday that its COVID-19 vaccine had the potential to confer longer-term immunity , and that it expects to have 20 million vaccine doses available in the U.S. this year.
The U.S. reported 245,000 jobs were created in November, with the unemployment rate ticking down to 6.7% from 6.9%. Economists polled by MarketWatch were predicting a 438,000 rise , though there were a handful of predictions for the data to show jobs falling. Many believe a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in recent weeks has begun to take a toll on the economy.
In Europe, data from Germany showed manufacturing orders rose for the sixth-straight month ahead of a second lockdown .
The European Central Bank plans to boost its bond-buying program, the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, when it meets next week, Market News reported , citing unnamed sources. The ECB indicated in a late October meeting that it would boost stimulus at this month’s meeting.
Major oil companies were higher, with shares of Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA +3.63% /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A +3.75% and BP /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +1.61% /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP +1.68% up 3% each, and Total up around 2%.
Those gains came as crude oil prices /zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed CL.1 +0.31% continued to rise after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies on Thursday agreed to a gradual rise in crude production starting in January, defying earlier expectations for an extension of current cuts in output.
Leading the Stoxx 600 gainers, shares of Dassault Aviation /zigman2/quotes/207053075/delayed FR:AM +0.76% climbed over 6%, after a report in French weekly financial newspaper, La Tribune, that Indonesia may buy 48 Rafale jet fighters .
Shares of Associated British Foods /zigman2/quotes/204493701/delayed UK:ABF +0.91% rose nearly 3%, after the U.K. conglomerate said autumn store closures likely cost it £430 million ($578.4 million) in sales, but that it still expects full-year revenue and profit from fast-fashion chain Primark to beat fiscal 2020 results .
SSE /zigman2/quotes/204546319/delayed UK:SSE +1.19% shares rose 4%. The FTSE 100 energy company said that Italian oil group ENI /zigman2/quotes/209584888/delayed IT:ENI +1.84% /zigman2/quotes/200785836/composite E +1.80% has agreed to acquire a 20% stake in the Dogger Bank A and B wind farm project owned by SSE and Norwegian state-owned multinational energy company Equinor /zigman2/quotes/202462536/composite EQNR +0.73% /zigman2/quotes/203290881/delayed NO:EQNR +0.35% .
Also contributing to the Stoxx 600 gains, shares of heavily weighted drugmakers AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +1.08% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +1.76% and GlaxoSmithKline /zigman2/quotes/209463850/composite GSK +0.59% were up more than 2% each.