10-22-13 4:22 AM EDT | Email Article

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch


LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets struggled for direction on Tuesday, as investors opted to stay on the sidelines ahead of the delayed U.S. nonfarm-payrolls report due later in the day.


The Stoxx Europe 600 index was flat at around 319.55, after closing in positive territory for an eighth straight day on Monday.


Several Scandinavian firms were among biggest movers in the pan-European index, with shares of Tele2 AB sinking 9.4% after the Swedish telecoms firm said it swung to a loss in the third quarter and cut its long-term financial guidance.


Swedbank AB climbed 4.9% after the bank posted an increase in third-quarter profit, boosted by rising net interest-income. It also said there are signs that the global economy is improving.


And in Oslo, Gjensidige Forsikring ASA rallied 7.7% after the insurance firm posted a 6% rise in third-quarter earnings per share.


More broadly, investors focused on the U.S. where the nonfarm-payrolls data and unemployment rate for September were slated to come out at 1:30 p.m. in London, or 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The report was scheduled to come out at the beginning of October, but was delayed due to the government shutdown last week. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect 185,000 jobs were added to the economy in September, while the joblessness rate is forecast to remain at 7.3%.


"With the view that Fed tapering has been kicked in to the long grass of next spring at the earliest firming up amongst market participants, and the fact that this data is a bit stale, this is one of the few occasions where a strong number won't do any damage to the dovish monetary environment the bulls keep latching onto," said Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at London Capital Group, in a note.


"Likewise, any weak figure could be shrugged off as focus would move to the post-shutdown payrolls in three weeks for a more accurate assessment of the economy," he added.


U.S. stock futures pointed to a flat open on Wall Street.


In Europe, France's CAC 40 index was slightly lower at 4,275.74, while Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.1% to 8,858.91.


The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.1% to 6,663.11.


BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) climbed 2.7% in London after the miner raised its outlook for full-year iron-ore production, signaling confidence that China's rapid industrialization will continue to lift demand for natural resources.


Shares of ARM Holdings PLC (ARMHY) dropped 3.8%, even as the microchip designer posted a rise in third-quarter profit.


Outside the major indexes, shares of Novartis AG added 1.1% after the drug maker raised its full-year outlook for the second consecutive quarter after a generic version of its blockbuster blood-pressure drug was delayed.

-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-22-13 0422ET

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Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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