* Energy stocks rise as Syria fears push up oil price
* RWE rallies after upgrade from SocGen
* Coming up: U.S. non-farm payrolls at 1230 GMT
By Danilo Masoni
LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - European shares rose on Friday, lifted by firmer energy and utility stocks which propped up markets before U.S. jobs data later in the day which could give clues over the timing of an interest rate hike.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index recovered from losses on Thursday to rise 1.6 percent, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also advanced 1.8 percent.
Oil majors such as Total and BP gained ground, boosted by a rise in the price of oil itself which rose partly on fears about escalating violence in Syria.
German utilities RWE and E.ON were also among the best performers in Europe, with both climbing more than 6 percent after Societe Generale upgraded RWE to “hold” from “sell.”
Concerns over an economic slowdown in China and uncertainty over the end of almost a decade of monetary expansion in the United States have weighed on equities in the past quarter, pushing European stock markets close to their 2015 lows.
But some investors believe the market could be ready to rebound as it starts a traditionally positive fourth quarter.
“The market is trying to find its equilibrium and I believe it’s almost reached it. Thinking strategically, European stocks have never been so interesting,” said Enrico Vaccari, a fund manager at Italy’s Consultinvest.
Volkswagen declined 3.1 percent, reflecting more worries concerning the fallout from a scandal over the rigging of VW emissions tests in the United States, that have wiped out about one third of the car maker’s stock market value.
VW shares hovered near four-year lows, as a French investigation into the company’s diesels emissions practice put further pressure on the stock.
Investors were also waiting for the U.S. jobs data to provide clues on the timing of a rate increase and, more importantly, expect the European Central Bank to boost its quantitative easing programme.
U.S. employers probably added jobs at a brisk pace in September, a sign that the labour market is near full strength and could push the Federal Reserve to raise rates at one of its two remaining meetings this year.
Today’s European research round-up (additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Alasdair Pal; Editing by Toby Chopra)