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* U.S. jobs growth worse than expected
* BNP Paribas rises after cost cutting plan
* Arcelor slumps on capital raising move
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, Feb 5 (Reuters) - European equities were steady on Friday as a rise in the shares of major banks and industrial companies offset a fall in stocks such as defence group Finmeccanica and steelmaker ArcelorMittal.
European stock markets initially turned lower after the publication of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data, but then later stabilised.
Data on Friday showed that U.S. non-farm payrolls increased by 151,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent, the lowest since February 2008. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast employment increasing by 190,000 and the jobless rate steady at 5 percent.
While the weak U.S. jobs growth could raise concerns over the state of the world’s biggest economy, it could also further undercut the case for a Fed interest rate hike in March. The U.S. central bank raised its short-term interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade.
“Given how feeble the U.S. print was, the Fed will not be changing their slant any time soon,” said Ava Trade chief market analyst Naeem Aslam.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index and the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index were both flat. Britain’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC rose 0.1 percent while Germany’s DAX fell 0.2 percent.
BNP Paribas advanced by 4 percent after France’s biggest bank presented plans to cut investment banking costs in a bid to bolster profitability, and said it would quit some activities to fuel growth.
BNP Paribas’ gains helped to lift up other banking stocks. Construction group Vinci also rose after issuing a bullish outlook, which also helped boost the shares of rival industrial and construction companies.
Hexagon advanced after the measurement technology firm posted quarterly operating profit that beat forecasts, while Nokian Tyres also climbed 7.8 percent after better-than-expected earnings.
However, ArcelorMittal fell 7.6 percent after the world’s largest steelmaker unveiled plans to raise $3 billion in fresh capital in a bid to reduce debt in the face of weak steel and mining sectors.
Finmeccanica shares also fell after Milan prosecutors said they would be investigating the pricing of a deal between Hitachi and Finmeccanica.
Today’s European research round-up (Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing by Mark Heinrich)