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U.S. jobs report, ECB commentary

Stock price information reflected on a window at the Euronext NV stock exchange in Paris, France, on Monday, March 13, 2023. 

Nathan Laine | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — European stocks closed lower on Friday, as investors digested fresh U.S. jobs data and the European Central Bank’s latest interest rate commentary.

The Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 0.16% lower. All major bourses and almost all sectors traded in the red, with utilities down 1% as health-care stocks added 0.5%.

The U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in May, with nonfarm payrolls expanding by 272,000, up from 165,000 in April and well ahead of the Dow Jones consensus estimate for 190,000. U.S. stocks were mixed following the release, with the S&P 500 hitting a fresh record high as the Nasdaq Composite dipped.

Elsewhere, Germany’s economy was seen growing slightly slower than expected this year, fresh data from the Bundesbank showed Friday. Europe’s biggest economy is now set to expand by 0.3%, below the 0.4% previous estimated, while inflation is likely to tick up slightly.

The pan-European benchmark ended Thursday’s session at 524.75 points — just above its previous record close on May 15, according to LSEG data.

It followed the European Central Bank’s decision to cut interest rates for the first time since 2019 in a widely expected move, despite nagging inflationary concerns. It takes the key bank rate in the 20-nation euro zone to 3.75%, down from a record 4%.

Thursday was also a big day for politics in the region, as Europe-wide elections got underway. Exit polls from the Netherlands indicate a narrow win by left-wing parties in the country, with eight seats for the Labour/Green Left combination.

Closely behind was Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party, which looks set to have won seven seats. It marks a stark turnaround for the PVV, which, although it won the country’s national election last year, failed to win any seats in the last EU election.

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