Europe Markets: Defensive plays nudge European stocks higher as key jobs data awaits

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An employee wearing a protective uniform works on a high speed production line of insulin at a factory of the global healthcare company Novo Nordisk..

Stocks in Europe moved grudgingly higher on Friday ahead of a key report on the U.S. labor market, with defensive sectors leading the advance.

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.20%  gained 0.29% to 378.57. Pharmaceuticals including Novo Nordisk NOVO.B, +1.76%  , food producers such as Danone BN, +0.33%  , and household product makers like Reckitt Benckiser RB, +0.66%  gained ground.

After a one-day break, the German DAX DAX, +0.04%  gained 0.17% to 11945.37.

The French CAC 40 PX1, +0.12%   rose 0.26% to 5452.85 and the U.K. FTSE 100 UKX, +0.37%  added 0.42% to 7107.07.

After a week of rough readings on purchasing managers indexes — the Stoxx 600 has dropped over 3% over the last 5 days — nonfarm payrolls data is due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast the U.S. added 147,000 new jobs last month. See jobs preview.

U.S. stocks staged a reversal on Thursday, closing higher after initially dropping when weak service-sector data was released. After the close of trading, Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said the risk of a recession is low — if the central bank gets interest-rate policy right.

A report that Apple has asked iPhone 11 suppliers to boost production gave a lift to the European tech sector, with sensor maker ams AMS, +2.58%   and chip producers STM, +1.99%  and Dialog Semiconductor DLG, +2.81%   advancing.