(AP) Markets were headed for a strong close to a historic week after the release of forecast-busting U.S. payrolls figures for February.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs during the month, way ahead of expectations for a gain of about 170,000.
The unemployment rate also fell, to 7.7 percent in February from 7.9 percent the previous month, adding to the upbeat mood surrounding the U.S. economy.
Hopes over the world's largest economy have pushed stock markets higher this year, with the Dow hitting a string of record highs this week. They have also given the dollar a lift as investors think the run of positive news may prompt the U.S. Federal Reserve to bring an end to its super-loose monetary policy sooner than previously thought.
The payrolls figures lifted stocks in Europe from session highs and doubled the gains anticipated at the Wall Street open.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent at 6,474 while Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent to 8,000. The CAC-40 in France was 1.3 percent higher at 3,842.
The Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.6 percent.
In the currency markets, the euro was 0.6 percent lower at $1.3020 while the dollar was 1.6 percent higher against the Japanese yen, at 96.33 yen - its first foray above 96 yen since the summer of 2009. The yen has also been on the retreat over the past few months amid expectations of a change in Japan's economic policy that will likely involve the Bank of Japan printing more money.
A lower yen has the potential to make Japanese exports cheaper and that's been at the heart of the Nikkei's recent surge. Earlier, the index jumped 2.6 percent to 12,283.62, its highest close since September 2008.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.4 percent to 23,091.95 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,123.40. Those in mainland China and Singapore fell.