LONDON: Europe's major stock markets flatlined Thursday after a subdued Asian session, with sentiment knocked by disappointing US data before this week's key non-farm payrolls, dealers said.
Oil prices firmed, having slid the previous day after OPEC and other major producers agreed to lift output as the economy rebounds and demand is expected to pick up.
Data from private payrolls firm ADP on Wednesday showed far fewer posts created last month than had been expected, as the fresh surge in coronavirus cases across the United States weighed upon employers.
Friday's non-farm payrolls figures will now be closely monitored, with some observers saying a strong reading could push the US Federal Reserve to start its stimulus pullback as soon as next month.
"The overall tone was ... one of caution as yesterday's ADP jobs miss has investors looking ahead to tomorrow's non-farm payrolls," said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
**- Tepid Wall Street lead -**
Asian markets diverged Thursday, with fresh fears about China's crackdown on tech firms offsetting optimism about the global recovery outlook and easing Covid fears.
While Wall Street provided a tepid lead, the day got off to a good start with Asian equities extending a recent rally.
Yet sentiment was jolted by news that Chinese regulators had summoned ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and ten other car platforms to give them a dressing down in the latest move against tech firms it sees as gaining too much power.
Officials demanded the firms, which also included the ride-hailing arm of major services app Meituan, cease "disorderly expansion" and "vicious competition" tactics.
They were told in a meeting Wednesday that the industry suffered from poor behaviour including recruiting unqualified drivers and "shifting the risks of operations onto drivers", the transport ministry said in a statement.
The firms were ordered to investigate internal problems and "immediately rectify" poor behaviour, while ride-hailing platforms were also told to reduce the cut they take from transactions and protect passengers' personal data.
The move follows a series of measures against Chinese tech firms as well as other sectors including private education, property and video games.