European stocks remained mostly higher in thin trade on Monday, after Friday''s downbeat U.S. data fuelled fresh uncertainty over the future of the Federal Reserve''s stimulus program.

During European afternoon trade, the EURO STOXX 50 added 0.18%, France’s CAC 40 edged up 0.17%, while Germany’s DAX 30 rose 0.25%.

Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report showed that the U.S. economy added 74,000 jobs in December, the smallest increase since January 2011 and well below expectations for 196,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to a five year low of 6.7% from 7% in November, but this was due in part to people dropping out of the labor force.

The surprisingly weak data tempered expectations that the Fed would cut its stimulus program again this month. The Fed cited a stronger labor market in its decision to cut its asset purchase program by USD10 billion in December, reducing it to USD75 billion-a-month.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale advanced 0.65% and 1.98%, while Germany''s Deutsche Bank surged 3.52%.

Among peripheral lenders, Spanish banks Banco Santander and BBVA rallied 0.88% and 2.23% respectively, while Italy''s Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit gained 1.54% and 2.08%.

Elsewhere, Alcatel-Lucent soared 4.75% amid reports the French network-equipment maker is in talks to sell its enterprise business to potential buyers.

In London, FTSE 100 dipped 0.01%, weighed by losses in energy stocks.
Tullow Oil led losses on the index, with shares plummeting 2.23%, while rival BP dropped 0.96.

Meanwhile, mining stocks were mixed, as Glencore Xstrata and Polymetal lost 0.03% and 0.85%, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.03% and 0.43%.

In the financial sector, stocks remained broadly higher. HSBC Holdings added 0.16% and Lloyds Banking jumped 1.20%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays rallied 2.44% and 3.18% respectively.

Adding to gains, Debenhams soared 5.09% after Sports Direct International acquired a 4.63% stake in the U.K. department store and said it wants to work with the company at an operational level.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.18% fall, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.28% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.28% decline.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger