European markets open higher on 2 August
Traders working at Frankfurt\'s stock exchange.

European markets opened higher on Friday ahead of the release of the key monthly US jobs report.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened 0.1% higher at 303.60

Britain's FSTE 100, Germany's DAX 30 and France's CAC 40 opened 2% higher each

Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.11% while Italy's FTSE MIB was down 0.11% in early deals

Market participants await the US nonfarm payrolls data due later in the day, which helps gauge the health of the world's top economy. Analysts polled by Reuters expect the US economy to have created 184,000 jobs in July, following a 195,000 uptick in June.

The US Federal Reserve has said it will cutback its monetary stimulus when the economy begins to improve and employment data is a key metric. Economists still expect the Fed to reduce its bond-buys after mid-September's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.

In the UK, The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) revised up its economic growth forecasts for both 2013 and 2014 by 0.3 percentage points to 1.2 percent this year and 1.8 percent next year. "The main cause of the improvement in the economic growth outlook is a rise in the prospects for consumer spending growth," NIESR said.

In another sign of a recovery, British house prices grew at their fastest annual rate in nearly three years in July, 2013, mortgage lender Natonwide said on Friday.

Elsewhere, Spain and Norway will put out unemployment data. Switzerland will release manufacturing PMI data.

In company news, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) named Ross McEwan as its new chief executive, as it swung to profit. The bank reported a pre-tax profit of £1.4bn (€1.6bn , $2.1bn , ) in the six months to June, compared to a loss of £1.7bn in the first half of 2012.

German insurer Allianz reported on Friday a 27% increase in net profit in the second quarter.

UK-based airline group IAG, manufacturing group MAN, bookmaker William Hill, insurer Direct Line and pest control company Rentokil will put out earnings updates during the day

German airline Lufthansa, French investment company AXA Italy's Intesa Sanpaolo will also release earnings updates today.

In Asia and the US

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei finished 3.29% higher on Friday. Australia's S&P/ASX index closed 0.94% higher while South Korea's ended 0.14% higher.

Earlier in Asia, markets gained as sentiments were boosted by upbeat US economic data and a pledge to ease monetary policy from global central banks.

US data showed that manufacturing in July grew at its fastest pace in two years. This suggests that growth in the world's top economy would pick up speed in the second half of 2013.

Earlier, data from Europe showed that eurozone manufacturing activity grew for the first time in two years during July, hinting that the region might come out of recession this quarter.

In the UK, manufacturing output during July soared to its highest level since February 2011, building on months of gathering momentum as the country's economy heals.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) both left interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, a day after the Federal Reserve said that the US economy still needed its support. .

ECB President Mario Draghi has said that liquidity would remain "ample for as long as needed."

On Wall Street, indices closed at record highs on Thursday, buoyed by positive factory activity data.

The Dow finished 128.48 points higher or 0.83% at 15,628.02. The S&P 500 ended 21.14 higher, or 1.25% at 1,706.87. The Nasdaq closed 49.37 points higher or 1.36% at 3,675.74.

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve downgraded slightly its view of the US economic recovery, describing the pace of growth as "modest" - a change from the "moderate" pace seen in June.