RTTNews - European stock futures point towards a flat opening with a negative bias on Thursday ahead of the release of Friday's key monthly jobs report from the U.S. and amid renewed worries on the pace of global economic recovery.

That said, the recovery seen in Asia on Thursday may lead to stock-specific buying. Shrugging off some early weakness, Asian stocks edged mostly higher on Thursday with participants going in for bargain hunting after previous session's setback.

China's Shanghai Composite index is up over 4% after a top securities regulator said late Wednesday that it would do its best to promote the steady development of the equity market.

Traders eagerly await rate decision from the European Central Bank due at 7.45 am ET for more cues about the domestic economy. The Governing Council of the ECB is expected to hold its key interest rate at 1.0 percent.

On Wall Street, a late session sell-off resulted in a lower close for stocks on Wednesday. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its August meeting, indicating that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee are more confident that the economic downturn is ending and that growth is likely to resume in the second half of the year. According to a release from the Commerce Department, factory orders increased by less than economists had been expecting in July.

Separately, data released by Automatic Data Processing, Inc. showed that non-farm private employment fell by more than economists had been anticipating in August, although the loss of jobs still marked the smallest drop in employment since September of 2008. The Dow closed down 0.32%, the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.09% and the S&P 500 gave off 0.33%.

After a choppy session, crude oil prices finished unchanged at $68.05 a barrel on Wednesday, as data from the U.S. Energy Administration revealed that inventories fell last week, but not as much as expected. In Asian trading on Thursday, crude oil prices rose modestly but stayed below $69 a barrel.

In corporate news, Peplin, Inc. said that it has agreed to be acquired by LEO Pharma A/S for about US$287.5 million, currently A$348.4 million, in cash.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Germany-based in-vitro diagnostic tests provider B.R.A.H.M.S. AG for ?330 million or approximately US$470 million.

Arkema SA will slash 88 jobs at its Saint-Auban site as part of a proposed reorganization plan.

Credit Suisse Group AG named Eric Varvel, the London-based head of Europe, Middle East and Africa , as the acting chief executive of investment bank, due to the sudden and unexpected illness of incumbent Paul Calello.

Total SA plans to temporarily halt production at its Dunkirk refinery from Sept. 12 due to sluggish demand for refined products in northwestern Europe, reports suggest.

Specialist recruitment group Hays plc said that its profit for the year ended June attributable to equity holders of parent was £105.8 million, compared to £188.2 million a year ago.

McBride plc said its full-year pre-tax profit was GBP 22.2 million, higher than GBP 15.7 million in the prior year period. Deltex Medical Group plc's pre-tax loss widened to £1.18 million from £1.13 million a year earlier.

The European markets fell for the third day on Wednesday, as investors booked profits following recent strong gains. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.39% lower, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index finished almost unchanged. Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index declined 0.04%, France's CAC 40 index slipped 0.29% and Germany's DAX index fell 0.14%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com