European stocks calm as US readies for 4th of July

European stock markets traded in a narrow range Friday as investors caught their breath after big losses the day before on U.S. jobs data. Wall Street’s closure for the Independence Day holiday kept trading volumes exceptionally light.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 2.01 points, or 0.1 percent, at 4,236.28, while Germany’s DAX fell 10.28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,708.21. The CAC-40 in France was 3.10 points, or 0.1 percent, higher at 3,119.51.

Earlier, Asian markets mostly fell but the losses were tame compared to those recorded on Wall Street on Thursday after the payrolls data, which showed U.S. employers slashed 467,000 jobs in June ? 100,000 more than anticipated.

That was also the first increase in monthly jobs losses since January.

“Yesterday’s U.S. jobs data contained plenty of bad news and put a big question mark over the ‘green shoot’ thesis that we are through the worst and that economic recovery is around the corner,” said Neil Mackinnon, chief economist at ECU Group.

Equities rose from the middle of March until the start of June on hopes that the U.S. economy in particular will recover from recession sooner than anticipated. Many investors saw stock valuations as particularly cheap and started buying. But bad economic news over the last few weeks brought an abrupt end to the rally and altered the general mood prevailing among investors.

Nevertheless, stocks around the world still managed to achieve one of the best quarters in years during the second quarter. The S&P 500 index in the U.S. rose around 16 percent during the quarter, its best performance since 1998, amid hopes of a global recovery despite worries about the banking system, public finances and the length and depth of the recession.

Trading has been subdued as the U.S. has a day off ahead of Saturday’s 4th of July celebrations and many in London focused on the Wimbledon tennis championships semi-finals, where Andy Murray was facing American Andy Roddick as the markets closed in an attempt to become the first Briton for 71 years to make the final.

“With New York shut for Independence Day the boys and girls in equity trading rooms are levitating two inches above the carpet in anticipation of the two Andys swapping rackets at 50 paces… and care little about the vagaries of the market place,” said David Buik, a markets analyst at BGC Partners in London.

Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 60.08 points, or 0.6 percent, to 9,816.07, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed up 25.35 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,203.40 after trading in the red most of the day.

Australia’s benchmark fell 1.4 percent, and Singapore’s main index finished down 1 percent.

China’s Shanghai Composite index was largely flat. In Korea, the Kospi rebounded to close up 0.6 percent.

Oil prices rose in light holiday trading volume after tumbling the day before as the disappointing U.S. job numbers raised concerns about demand. Benchmark crude for August delivery fell 48 cents to $66.25 a barrel.

The dollar was up 0.1 percent at 96 yen, while the euro rose 0.3 percent to $1.3992.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.