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European stocks hold steady, with U.S. jobs update in focus

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A freighter on the Rhine river in Cologne, Germany. German manufacturing orders rose in June, data Friday showed.

European stocks ebbed slightly lower Friday, as losses for Swiss Re AG and British home builders hit the regional index, as investors focused on the U.S. monthly jobs report due later. The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, +0.05%  was down 0.1% at 378.61, led by consumer services, health care and financial shares. But utility and basic material stocks printed modest gains. The pan-European benchmark was on course for a weekly rise of 0.1%, but that modest gain would still mark the first weekly increase in three. Swiss Re AG SREN, -3.26%  was among the biggest decliners on the Stoxx 600 Friday, with shares down 4%. The Zurich-based reinsurance company said its first-half net earnings fell to $1.21 billion from $1.87 billion in the year ago period. Profit took a $360 million hit from claims in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, which ran through the Australian region in late March.