European stocks mixed at open

Europe’s stock markets have diverged in opening deals, as investors cautiously await key US non-farm payrolls data.

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Sentiment was also subdued one day after the European Central Bank revealed it will launch its 1.1 trillion-euro ($A1.56 trillion) quantitative easing stimulus program next week.

In initial trade on Friday, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index dipped 0.16 per cent to 6,949.75 points and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.20 per cent to 4,953.68.

On the upside, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rose 0.08 per cent to 11,513.89 points compared with Thursday’s closing level.

The euro meanwhile held near 11-year US dollar lows, hit on Thursday by the ECB news.

“After yesterday’s unleashing of QE by the ECB, the bulls had a nice rally off the back of it but as usual, there’s a little trepidation ahead of the big (US) jobs figure,” said dealer Jonathan Sudaria at London Capital Group.

Focus is now on Friday’s US non-farm payrolls figures.

Analysts expect growth of 240,000 jobs in February and a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.6 per cent from 5.7 per cent.

On Thursday, ECB chief Mario Draghi told a news conference that from Monday, the bank would buy 60 billion euros of private and public bonds each month for at least 18 months in a bid to ward off deflation.

He also said it had increased its 2015 eurozone growth forecast to 1.5 per cent, followed by 1.9 per cent in 2016 and 2.1 per cent in 2017.

At the same time, he forecast inflation at zero this year, lower than previously projected, but added it would pick up to 1.5 per cent next year and to 1.8 per cent in 2017.