a crane next to a bridge © patrik stollarz/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
EUROPE MARKETS
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European stocks were headed for the best weekly return since November amid a flurry of fresh earnings news on Friday, while U.S. equity futures also rose modestly ahead of a big piece of data — nonfarm payrolls.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.3% to 410.90, poised for a weekly return of 3.8%, the best since the week ended Nov. 13, when the index rose 5.1%. The German DAX rose 0.1% and the FTSE 100 index was flat, but the French CAC 40 gained 0.9% thanks to a batch of earnings.

U.S. stock futures were slightly higher, led by Nasdaq-100 futures The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit fresh records on Thursday, boosted by a drop in COVID-19 deaths and cases, corporate results, and encouraging weekly jobless claims.

Investors on both sides of the Atlantic will be focused on January U.S. jobs data, with expectations for a jobs gain of 55,000, according to economists contacted by Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. But the labor market continues to struggle from the winter onslaught of COVID-19.


Video: BNB Paribas expects revenues to increase in 2021 (CNBC)

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U.S. drug company Johnson & Johnson? said it had submitted an application for an emergency-use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

In Europe, where cases are also starting to ease off amid tight restrictions, data from Germany revealed a bigger-than-expected drop in manufacturing orders for December.

Among stocks on the move, shares of Beazley surged 13%, after the specialty insurer swing to a pretax loss for 2020, but said it was upbeat about its performance in 2021.

Shares of Vinci jumped 5%, after the French construction company posted a sharp fall in profit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but analysts cited a strong beat on free cash flow.

Carlsberg shares climbed over 3%, after the brewer proposed a bigger payout for shareholders as it posted a forecast-beating full-year net profit, citing cost cuts and a strong China rebound.

Shares of BNP Paribas rose 2%. The French bank reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit, hurt by record low interest rates and the pandemic, but forecast a rebound in revenue this year as the global economy picks up.

Sanofi shares rose 2%, after the French drug company swung to a profit for the fourth quarter of 2020, even as it posted a sales drop on the year.

Leading the decliners, shares of Finnish engineering group Neste fell nearly 6% after reporting results, which included a drop in operating profit.

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