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Robust U.S. jobs figures fuel European stock rally

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

PARIS, March 8 (Reuters) - European shares hit their highest level in 4-1/2 years on Friday after robust U.S. jobs data fuelled expectations of a pick-up in global growth while central banks' monetary policies remain supportive.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally closed 0.8 percent higher at 1,194.52 points, after rising as high as 1,197.73 following the U.S. data, a level not seen since September 2008.

The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index added 1.3 percent to 2,726.83 points, posting a weekly gain of 4.2 percent, its biggest weekly rise in nearly four months.

"We're seeing growing inflows coming into the asset class. This is sort of a sweet spot, with improving U.S. job data while central banks around the world are pledging to keep printing money," said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities in Paris.

The U.S. data showed employers added 236,000 workers to their payrolls last month, more than economists had expected, and the jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest rate since December 2008.

The broad rally after the data prompted some investors to seek out areas of relative value in Southern Europe, which had been hit anew recently over resurgent political risk there.

As a result, Italy's FTSE MIB benchmark index and Spain's IBEX chalked up the biggest gains, surging 1.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, led by gains for leading banks and telecoms such as Telefonica and UniCredit up 4.4 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130308/robust-us-jobs-figures-fuel-european-stock-rally