Europe stock indexes end mixed; Swiss stocks catch up

PARIS Thu Jan 3, 2013 4:42pm GMT

PARIS Jan 3 (Reuters) - A leading pan-European share index ended higher on Thursday, helped by better-than-expected U.S. jobs data and strong gains from a Swiss market returning from a national holiday.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally ended 0.4 percent higher at 1,162.24 points.

While Switzerland's SMI benchmark surged 2.9 percent, and UK's FTSE 100 added 0.3 percent, most other regional indexes pulled back slightly after a U.S. budget deal had fuelled strong gains in the previous session.

That bout of profit-taking was capped after data showed U.S. private-sector employers added 215,000 jobs in December, well above economists' expectations, a day before all-important payrolls figures for December, but it failed to spark a sustained broad-market rally.

"It basically means two scenarios for tomorrow: a strong figure and indexes hit new highs, or a sluggish figure which would trigger a pull-back. A lot of investors are looking for a reason to book profits at this point," Saxo Banque senior sales trader Alexandre Baradez said.