European stock markets pushed higher Thursday, helped by positive results from a potential Covid-19 vaccine although sentiment remains cautious as coronavirus cases mount ahead of the release of key U.S. employment data.

At 3:45 AM ET (0745 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 1.6% higher, France's CAC 40 rose 1.3%, the U.K.'s FTSE index was up 0.8%.

News emerged late Wednesday that a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech performed well in early-stage human trials and saw the production of neutralizing antibodies in all the patients who were inoculated after 28 days.

Progress on the vaccine front has become doubly important as events in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere have cast doubt over the willingness and ability of western countries to enforce lockdowns effectively enough to contain the virus' spread.

The number of reported cases in the U.S., the world’s economic engine, rose to over 50,000 Wednesday, a new record for one day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In European corporate news, AB Foods (LON:ABF) stock rose 7.6% after the retailer said that trading in its Primark fashion stores that reopened after lockdown has been "reassuring and encouraging", despite its third-quarter revenue falling sharply. It also reported strong trading at its sugar business.

Meggitt (LON:MGGT) stock climbed 6.7% after the aerospace supplier said it is experiencing initial signs of recovery in commercial aerospace, even as its revenue fell steeply in the second quarter.

Engie (PA:ENGIE) stock rose 2.6% after the French utility company agreed to sell a 49% stake in a U.S. renewables portfolio.

May unemployment data for the euro zone is due out at 5 AM ET (0900 GMT), and is expected to show a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.7% from 7.3% in April.

But the main focus of the day will turn to the release of U.S. employment figures, at 08:30 AM ET, to see if the world's largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery.

Economists are forecasting that the U.S. economy added 3 million jobs in June after a shock 2.5 million gain a month earlier. But the two months of gains would still pale in comparison to the approximately 22 million jobs that were lost in March and April.

Oil prices edged higher Thursday after Energy Information Administration data late Wednesday showed U.S. crude inventories fell 7.2 million barrels from a record high last week, far more than expected.

This backed up the American Petroleum Institute data from the previous day, which suggests a bump up in demand for crude.

At 3:45 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.2% higher at $40.30 a barrel. The international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.3% to $42.58.

Elsewhere, gold futures were largely flat at $1,780.25/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.1280, up 0.3% on the day.