Europe's main stock markets climbed in cautious deals on Friday ahead of the publication of crucial non-farm payrolls data in the United States, the world's biggest economy.
Investors were also awaiting the result of long-running talks between Greece and its creditors on cutting its huge debts while Asian markets were mixed.
In late morning deals, the benchmark FTSE 100 index gained 0.48 percent to 5,823.87 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.39 percent to 6,681.60 points and in Paris the CAC 40 advanced 0.53 percent to 3,394.13 points.
The European single currency meanwhile retreated to $1.3177 from $1.3142 in New York late Thursday.
"Equities have begun ... quietly but with a mildly positive feel about them as the FTSE 100 shows no signs of selling off," said ETX Capital senior trader Manoj Ladwa.
"Trading is likely to be quiet ahead of non-farm payroll numbers out later in the session. Anything greater than the market expects is likely to see equities closing on highs for the week."
At 1330 GMT, the US Labor Department will announce non-farm payroll figures after recent data showed a healthy number of jobs being created and sparked hopes of recovery in the world's number-one economy.
"Dominating the day is the US non-farm payrolls data; the present expectation is for the US to have added 140,000 jobs in January, a lower figure than the strong December report," said IG Index analyst David Jones.
"Volatility is likely to remain low until these figures are out, with traders opting to sit and await news rather than heavily commit themselves."
Forecasts say January's release will show the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.5 percent from December.
On Thursday, the department said new claims for unemployment benefits, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, fell last week and continued to trend lower.
Bernanke told Congress that he remained concerned about persistently high unemployment, and especially those who have been jobless for long periods, which could make them more unlikely to find work.
More than 40 percent of the 13 million unemployed have been jobless for more than six months, Bernanke said.
"We still have a long way to go before the labour market can be said to be operating normally."
He added that the economy had picked up but still remains vulnerable to shocks and the eurozone turmoil.
In Greece, meanwhile, officials said they were edging closer to a deal with the country's creditors to halve its debt, although eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday that the talks were proving "ultra-difficult.".
Athens is asking private bondholders to take at least a 50 percent cut on their investments as it tries to slice 100 billion euros off its 350 billion euro debt mountain.
Source: AFP Global Edition