European markets witnessed mixed trade on Friday ahead of the release of the crucial US nonfarm jobs data, expected later in the day.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index opened flat to 304.44.

Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX 30 opened 0.1% lower each.

Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.14% in early trade.

Spain's IBEX 35 was up 0.31% in early trade.

Market participants will be tracking the widely-watched US employment report, due out at 8:30am ET, as it could influence the US Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus decision, when the Fed's FOMC meets on 17 September.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast the US economy to have created 180,000 nonfarm jobs in the month of August. They predicted the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 7.4%.

Market participants will also be tracking second quarter GDP data coming in from Greece and Portugal during the day.

Meanwhile, debates over Syria, and not economic reconstruction, central bank policies or tax avoidance, topped the agenda at the ongoing G20 summit in Russia.

The US and Russia are striving to garner support for their respective strategies over the Syrian crisis at the G20 summit in St Petersburg. While Washington is bent on carrying out a military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Moscow insists any intervention without the UN mandate would amount to an act of "aggression" by the US.

The sharp differences among G20 leaders came to the fore at the summit. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said the G20 nations remain divided following the first day of the talks.

In Asia and the US

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei finished 1.45% lower on Friday. Australia's S&P/ASX closed 0.05% higher while South Korea's Kospi ended 0.19% higher.

Earlier in Asia, most markets traded higher even as a raft of upbeat US economic data suggested that the country's Federal Reserve could taper its $85bn bond-buying stimulus in September.

Data for the month of August showed that the US services sector grew at its fastest pace in about eight years. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its services index rose to 58.6, from 56 in July. The August reading is the highest since December 2005.

Meanwhile, government data showed that weekly jobless claims dropped to a near five-year low. Weekly claims fell by 9,000 to 323,000 just as the private sector 176,000 jobs in August. The US economy added 200,000 private sector jobs in July, according to payroll processing major ADP.

On Wall Street, indices ended slightly higher following mostly positive economic data.

The Dow finished 6.61 points higher at 14,937.48. The S&P 500 closed 2 points higher at 1,655.08 while the Nasdaq ended 9.74 points higher at 3,658.78.