European markets us unemployment
Markets edge up ahead of US employment data. (Reuters)

European stocks gained in the early minutes of trading as investors awaited US employment figures amid hopes that the country's lawmakers will reach an agreement on the impending fiscal crisis.

Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index of major European stocks was up 0.17 percent to 1133.77 points while the eurozone's Eurostoxx 50 edged 0.28 percent higher to 2610.77. UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.10 percent. Italy's FTSE MIB gained 0.02 percent while France's CAC-40 was up 0.29 percent. Germany's DAX and Spain's IBEX 35 gained 0.19 and 0.31 percent.

The single-currency buckled under pressure to a one-week low against the dollar after the European Central Bank (ECB) slashed its outlook for the eurozone economy.

Asian stocks climbed to a 16-month peak earlier as traders remained positive on the US and Chinese economies, but major indices in the region ended the week mixed.

Japan's Nikkei average slipped 0.19 percent to 9527.39 while South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.40 percent to 1957.45. China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.60 percent to 2061.79. Hong Kong' Hang Seng traded 0.26 percent lower to 22191.17 towards close.

The ongoing political deadlock over the "fiscal cliff" negotiations in the United States continued to be in focus. But investors remained positive that the lawmakers will reach an agreement to avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases soon.

Official data from the country showed that the weekly jobless claims in the world's largest economy dropped to a one-month low. The all-important nonfarm payrolls data set for release later in the day is expected to show that jobles rates remain steady at 7.9 percent, according to Reuters.

Chinese markets outperformed other major indices, with the Shanghai index advancing the most in the week in three months ahead of the country's November industrial output data set for release on 9 December. Analysts expect the figures to be positive. A survey by Bloomberg had shown that industrial production in the world's second largest economy probably jumped for the third month to 9.8 percent year-on-year.

This week China's new leaders had said that the country will continue reform efforts to keep the economy at a stable level. Analysts expect the new regime to introduce measures to boost domestic demand and guard itself against the slowing global economy.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank has slashed its economic forecasts for developing countries in Asia. The bank cut its 2012 growth estimates for the region's 45 countries marginally, from 6.1 percent to 6.0 percent.

The Nikkei slipped towards close of the session after topping the 9500-mark for the first time in seven months. Some of the major technology and mobile carrier firms were the major losers. Fujitsu dropped 3.57 percent while Casio was down 2 percent. Shares of KDDI and Softbank fell 2.97 and 2.12 percent respectively.

China's state-owned insurance firm People's Insurance Company (Group) of China debuted its trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Shares jumped 7.8 percent on its initial public offering, which was the city's largest in two years.