European stock markets staged broad-based gains on Friday, as upbeat Chinese export data and Japanese growth figures fueled trading optimism and with investors now awaiting key U.S. nonfarm-payroll data to gauge the state of the economic recovery.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.5% to 294.62, putting it on track to break a two-day losing streak.
Shares of Siemens AG (SI) gained 1.5%, after Citigroup added the German conglomerate to its focus list with a buy rating. Citi cited progress in its restructuring and the potential for increased profitability and cash returns.
Pointing in the other direction, shares of Clariant AG dropped 2.4% as Nomura cut the chemicals firm to reduce from buy.
For the broader stock markets, bourses mirrored gains from Asia, where upbeat export data from China lifted the mood. Exports in February were 21.8% higher than they were a year earlier, suggesting that the global economy is recovering as demand for Chinese goods rebounds. See: China trade surplus narrows, but exports rising
Additionally, Japan revised its growth figures for the final quarter of 2012 to show that the economy has turned around and is expanding. See: Japan GDP grows again, but current account weak
Investors were further looking to the U.S., where nonfarm-payrolls data, due 8:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern time, will be closely watched for indications that the U.S. labor market is recovering.