European Factors to Watch-Shares seen steady, focus on U.S. jobs
LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - European shares headed for a steady open on Friday, with investors seen avoiding strong bets ahead of U.S. jobs data that could provide fresh hints about the health of the economy and set the market's near-term direction.
U.S. non-farm payrolls are forecast to have risen by 149,000 in February, up from the weather-depressed gains of 113,000 in January. Analysts said expectations may have been lowered by the soft ADP private-sector jobs report and ISM services sector survey released earlier this week.
The widely-tracked jobs report could also provide clues about the U.S. Federal Reserve's likely move to further trim its stimulus, analysts said.
"A disappointing number will be neglected by investors as February was still adversely impacted by winter weather," Ruland Research analyst Heino Ruland, said.
"In the near term, I am quite bullish for equities. It becomes clearer by the day that growth resumed in the euro area, even though below potential growth, which means that interest rates will begin rising but stay comparatively low thereby increasing the relative attractiveness of equity valuations."
IG expected the jobs number to rise to 185,000, higher than the market consensus, while KBC saw the figure at 200,000.
"Consumption and investments are still strong, and since the weather was a little bit better than last month, a rebound is possible. However, the risks on this number is more on the downside than on the upside," Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC, in Brussels, said.
At 0720 GMT, futures for the Euro STOXX 50, Britain's FTSE 100 , Germany's DAX and France's CAC were flat to 0.1 percent higher. Continuación...