European stocks pared losses to inch higher Wednesday as global markets gear up for Friday’s U.S. jobs report.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index opened lower but by 10 a.m. London time was up 0.2 percent.
Markets were unmoved by data showing that the euro zone inflation rate remained at 0.2 percent in August, unchanged from the previous month. The region’s unemployment rate for July also remained unchanged from the previous month, at 10.1 percent.
Shares of Commerzbank were up almost 1 percent after a German magazine report suggested that Deutsche Bank has considered a merger with its German rival. The German Manager Magazin did not cite sources. Neither Deutsche Bank nor Commerzbank would comment on the report.
Meanwhile, French industrial group Bouygues was the best performer on the index with its share price up 2.8 percent after it reported a 73 percent rise in first-half current operating profit despite a slip in sales, Reuters reported.
The family-controlled company also announced preparations for the succession of chairman and chief executive Martin Bouygues.
Global markets appear to be turning cautious ahead of the all-important U.S. jobs data due on Friday. The non-farm payrolls report will be eagerly watched by the U.S. Federal Reserve and could determine whether the central bank increases interest rates in September.
Markets in Asia opened mixed on Wednesday, with Japanese shares gaining on the back of a weaker yen, while traders awaited the key August U.S. nonfarm payroll data due Friday. Meanwhile in the U.S. on Tuesday, stocks closed lower as investors analyzed strong consumer data and also looked ahead to the jobs report.
In business news, the fallout has continued from the European Commission’s ruling on Tuesday that Ireland must recover 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) in back taxes from U.S. tech giant Apple. Both Ireland and Apple have said they will appeal the decision and Washington criticized the move.
In other news, French Economy Minister Emanuel Macron resigned on Tuesday in order to work on his plan “to transform France” but there is speculation that he will run in the 2017 presidential election.
Meanwhile, British consumer confidence bounced back in August after a Brexit blip, a survey by GfK showed on Wednesday.
Flash euro zone inflation data for August and euro zone unemployment data for July are due on Wednesday but there are no major earnings.