European shares inched up in mid-morning trade on Friday Friday and were set to end a volatile week higher as investors bought stocks hammered by fears around the Omicron variant.

Gains, however, were largely muted ahead of the US monthly jobs data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 climbed 0.1% after swinging between losses and gains all week on worries over the potential impact of the newly detected coronavirus variant on economic recovery.

"We've got two immovable forces going head-to-head - the old adage that markets hate uncertainty, and traders' love of the dips," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

"The deep sell-offs are being seen as a big opportunity, while investors hope the variant doesn't turn out to be too bad."

European stocks are set to end the week with slim gains as the market outlook has been clouded by fresh restrictions due to the new variant and spiralling price pressures ahead of the winter.

The European Central Bank may set policy for a relatively short period at this month's meeting given heightened uncertainty, President Christine Lagarde told Reuters.

Lagarde, however, reiterated the view that inflation will decline in 2022, adding that it may have already peaked.

All eyes are on the US jobs data that is likely to show employers stepped up hiring in November, giving the economy a strong boost, though worker shortages remained a constraint.

IHS Markit's survey showed euro zone business activity accelerated last month, but the bounce may be temporary as demand growth weakened and fears about the Omicron coronavirus variant put a dent in optimism.

Travel stocks rose 1.3%, recovering from last week's sharp losses after fresh curbs.

Oil stocks advanced 1.2%, tracking crude prices, after OPEC+ said it would review supply additions ahead of its next meeting if the virus dents demand.