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A strong jump in U.S. nonfarm payrolls helped send European stock markets higher on Friday, with the benchmark index posting a third straight week of gains, marketwatch.com informs. European stock markets rose to their highest since the 2008 financial crisis. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.8 per cent to close at 295.55, marking the highest level since June 2008. The index rose 2.3 per cent on the week, the biggest weekly gain since the beginning of 2013, helped by solid gains in the U.S. where the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted all-time highs. Over the past year the Stoxx 600 has nudged a 12 per cent advance as cheap liquidity from central banks and a pick up in the global economy have lured investors back into equities.On Friday, shares of Lagardere SCA jumped the most since June last year after a well-received earnings report, while ThyssenKrupp AG gained the most in 2013 on news the chairman will step down. Infineon Technologies AG rose to a five-week high after a broker upgrade. The broader stock markets opened in positive territory, but were sent firmly higher after U.S. jobs data beat expectations. The Labor Department said 236,000 jobs were added to the economy in February, exceeding estimates of a 160,000 rise. Additionally, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 per cent from 7.9 per cent, marking the lowest level since December 2008. “In our view, the pace of employment growth is what will determine when the Fed ends it [quantitative-easing] program and the significant market reaction to the report does not reflect this,” Allan von Mehren, chief analyst at Danske Bank, said in a note.European investors also found inspiration in Asia, where bourses rose as upbeat export data from China lifted the mood. Exports in February were 21.8 per cent higher than they were a year earlier, suggesting that the global economy is recovering as demand for Chinese goods rebounds. Additionally, Japan revised its growth figures for the final quarter of 2012 to show that the economy has turned around and is expanding. Back in Europe, shares of Fugro NV jumped 14 per cent in Amsterdam as the oil- and gas-services firm proposed raising dividends for 2012, as revenue and earnings improved for the full year. According to CNN, despite the increasingly positive mood, there are still some areas of concern, namely the Chinese government’s move to cool the country’s overheated property market, the possible economic impact of U.S. spending cuts, and the deadlock in Italy.Brent oil fell back towards USD 111 a barrel following news of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death, copper traders took profits after two days of gains, while gold edged up 0.2 percent to USD 1,575 an ounce.