AFP – Europe’s main stock markets rose further on Friday, with traders reacting to positive Chinese economic data before the release of key US jobs data, analysts said.

London’s FTSE 100 index of leading companies climbed 0.51 percent to 6,471.78 points approaching midday in the British capital, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 won 0.67 percent to 7,993.05 points after an brief push above 8,000 that was close to five-year highs.

In Paris, the CAC 40 gained 0.95 percent to 3,829.95 points.

The euro fell to $1.3098 from $1.3107 late on Thursday in New York.

Gold prices dipped to $1,577.70 an ounce on the London Bullion Market from $1,579.50 Thursday.

“It?s another day with markets visibly up in the green territory, which seems pretty much standard now,” said Anita Paluch, a trader at Gekko Global Markets.

“Markets are in the risk mood, clearly inspired by the Asian markets’ performance and boosted by the Chinese export numbers that increased dramatically.”

European stock markets had also risen on Thursday after the ECB and Bank of England held their key rates, forgoing any new stimulus measures.

“All eyes are now on the NFP (non-farm payrolls) numbers due out later today for further hints on the health of the economic recovery,” said Paluch.

“Although the US is facing some headwinds on the fiscal level due to spending cuts, recent hard economic data points to an improvement in the economic conditions and swelling hopes for solid recovery,” she added.

President Barack Obama last week reluctantly ordered an $85-billion austerity drive that could slow the US economy and slash jobs.

Asian stock markets meanwhile ended with gains on Friday, with Tokyo hitting the highest level since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, following another record-breaking finish for Wall Street’s Dow Jones index overnight.

The Japanese currency fell to a three-and-a-half-year low against the dollar and also sank against the euro as investors look to the Bank of Japan’s next policy meeting, on expectations of a further loosening of monetary policy, traders said.

Tokyo closed up 2.64 percent at 12,283.62 points, the highest level since the collapse of Wall Street banking giant Lehman Brothers heralded the start of the global financial crisis.

Shanghai added a modest 0.10 percent as official data showed China’s exports surged more than 20 percent in February year-on-year despite the Lunar New Year holiday, in another sign of recovery for the world’s second-largest economy.

Back in Europe, the ECB on Thursday held its main refinancing rate at a historic low of 0.75 percent, despite concerns that political gridlock in Italy could trigger a resurgence in the debt crisis.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said he believed that with the current rate, an unprecedented amount of liquidity pumped into banks and a key bond-purchase programme in place, the central bank has already done its utmost to help resolve the long-running crisis.

The Bank of England meanwhile voted Thursday to hold its reference interest rate at a record-low 0.50 percent, where it has stood for four years, and opted against increasing its cash stimulus programme to boost a British economy on the brink of recession.