European stocks drop at open; London loses 0.30%

Europe's stock markets slid at the start of trade on Friday before key US payrolls data, at the end of the first full trading week of 2015.

In initial deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 0.30 percent to 6,550.40 points compared with the close on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Frankfurt's DAX 30 lost 0.24 percent to 9,813.99 points and the CAC 40 in Paris dropped 0.26 percent to 4,249.26.

"The first week of the New Year is nearly over and for very many it is not going to be a week that they quickly forget," said Alpari analyst James Hughes.

"With oil prices dropping below $50 a barrel, deflation finally in the eurozone and some huge swings in equity and currency markets you could have been forgiven for thinking there had been no festive break at all."

Markets were rocked this week as global oil prices plunged under $50 per barrel for the first time in more than five years on plentiful supplies, demand fears and the strong dollar.

Confidence has however picked up in recent days as analysts predict the European Central Bank will launch a bond-buying scheme -- known as quantitative easing (QE) -- to kickstart the eurozone economy.

Expectations were fanned when data Wednesday showed consumer prices in the region had fallen for the first time since October 2009, during the financial crisis.

However, QE speculation has also sent the European single currency tumbling to a series of nine-year low points against the dollar.

Eyes are now on a closely followed US jobs report due later in the day, with forecasts for another sharp rise in new posts, giving the Federal Reserve more ammunition to lift interest rates.

"The week is not yet over in terms of the volatility either as later this afternoon we will see the release of the US non-farm payroll number within the jobs report," added Hughes.