European shares turned negative in afternoon trade on Friday after data showed U.S. employers cut 190,000 jobs in October, more than expected and driving the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent, the highest in 26-1/2 years.

By 1408 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of top shares was down 0.8 percent at 983.03 points, having earlier been up as much as 995.78 points.

The index has gained almost 52 percent from its lifetime low in March and is up nearly 18 percent for the year.

What spooked the market the most was the unemployment rate which came in at 10.2 percent as everybody had expected 9.9 percent, said Philippe Gijsels, strategist at Fortis Bank.

It reminded everyone we are not out of the woods yet, he said. I think this is only the beginning of a more difficult situation for the equity markets.

Energy stocks took the most points off the index as crude CLc1 fell 2.5 percent. BG Group (BG.L), BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Total (TOTF.PA) were down 1.5 to 2.2 percent.

Miners slipped from earlier gains as metal prices retreated. Antofagasta (ANTO.L), BHP Billiton (BLT.L), Eurasian Natural Resources Corp (ENRC.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and Xstrata (XTA.L) were 0.7 to 1.9 percent lower.

Across Europe, the FTSE 100 .FTSE index was down 0.9 percent, Germany's DAX .GDAXI fell 1 percent and France's CAC 40 .FCHI was 0.3 percent lower.