European markets gain more ground on miners and energy stocks

<p>European indices charged higher by another 0.5% on Friday, helped by gains in heavyweight mining and energy companies whilst traders exuded a bullish confidence that […]</p>

European indices charged higher by another 0.5% on Friday, helped by gains in heavyweight mining and energy companies whilst traders exuded a bullish confidence that this afternoon’s US non-farm payrolls could be a strong number.

After both US ADP Employment and Jobless Claims outperformed market expectations, and with traders expecting some of the weather induced poor jobs figures of January to improve somewhat in February, the market is optimistic of a strong jobs number today, with non-farm payrolls expecting to rise to 185,000.

The FTSE 100 has rallied over 3% in the last 48 hours as traders have used the consolidating crude oil price as an excuse to bargain hunt some of the more badly beaten stocks.

The FTSE 100 however remains locked in its current trading range and with the crisis in North Africa and the Middle East far from being at a point that would settle investors, the UK Index could struggle to break out its range for some time.

WPP lags on earningsOf the individual stock movers to note today, WPP has been a standout with the firm’s shares falling 3.8% straight to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after shareholders were left somewhat disappointed that its results failed to tow a similar line to that of competitor Publicis. The world’s largest advertising group announced fourth quarter revenue growth of 8.5% which fell someway short of Publicis’ own quarter growth of 12.5% and in the process disappointing shareholders somewhat who had heightened expectations.

We have also seen a number of broker actions trigger individual stock price moves. Standard Life shares have rallied over 3% in early trading with shareholders triggered into action after Investec hiked its price target on the firm’s shares. Aviva shares also received a boost from an upgrade by Credit Suisse whilst IMI shares also gained on the back of positive broker actions from both Panmure and Citigroup.

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