LONDON Feb 1 European shares edged higher in choppy trade Friday, led by UK stocks after telecoms operator BT reported better-than-expected results.
Strong demand for broadband and tight cost control helped BT offset the combined pressures of regulation and recession to post a better-than-expected 7 percent rise in third-quarter pre-tax profit, sending its shares 4.2 percent higher.
The broader FTSEurofirst 300 index was 0.2 percent higher at 1,166.87 points, struggling for direction as key economic releases due later in the day, including euro zone manufacturing figures and a U.S. jobs report, kept investors on tenterhooks.
"The initial data from the euro zone and the UK may give us some direction but then again I think towards midday we're going to see some volatility, low volumes and people staying on the sidelines, Ishaq Siddiqi, a strategist at ETX Capital, said.
But Spain's Ibex shed 1.5 percent after the country's market regulator lifted its ban on selling borrowed stocks and bonds, is a sign some investors were betting on declines in Spanish stocks after a 23 percent rally in the past month.