European stocks edge higher on last trading day of 2016
FTSE rises 0.3% to end year at new record as Iseq falls over 300 points on annual basis
Wall Street was flat after the open on the last trading day of 2016 due to losses across most sectors, but was still on track to record hefty gains for the year. Photograph: Stephen Yang/Reuters
European stocks inched higher on the last trading day of the year, poised for their first annual decline since the peak of the sovereign-debt crisis in 2011.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 per cent, with trading volume about 40 per cent lower than the 30-day average.
Property firms climbed the most, helping the measure reverse losses of as much as 0.4 per cent. UK markets closed early, with the FTSE 100 Index rising 0.3 per cent to end the year at a fresh record.
Europe’s benchmark gauge never fully recovered from losses at the start of the year spurred by concern about a slowdown in China. Then came investor concerns about the region’s economy, political uncertainty and Italy’s banking crisis. The Stoxx 600 traded in a range of fewer than 50 points for most of the year, before picking up momentum in the final quarter.
The Iseq closed its half-day session marginally up at 6,517 on light trading volumes, but down over 300 points on annual basis.
Bank of Ireland was down less than 1 per cent at 23.4 cents as European banking stocks remained under pressure.
Swiss-Irish food group Aryzta closed the year on a positive note, rising 3 per cent to €41.45, its highest level in several months, maintaining an upward trend since the appointment of new chairman Gary McGann.
Building materials giant CRH closed up nearly 1 per cent at €32.70. The company, which conducts a significant portion of the business in the US, has been buoyed by speculation that US president-elect Donald Trump may announce a major capital spending plan upon taking office next month.
London’s top-flight index surged to an all-time high and recorded its best year since 2013 after riding out a turbulent 12 months thanks to a boost from the Brexit-hit pound.
The FTSE 100 smashed its mid-session record and set a new all-time closing high by rising 22.57 points to 7,142.83.
It came as London emerged as the best performer out of the major European stock markets this year, finishing 2016 more than 14 per cent higher despite Britain’s voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd.
Shopping centre owner Hammerson helped the FTSE 100 achieve fresh records on Friday after inking a deal with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC to offload a 50 per cent stake in the newly opened Watermark leisure complex in Southampton. Shares closed up more than 1 per cent or 10p to 573p.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Coca-Cola HBC up 38p to 1,770p and London Stock Exchange Group up 59p to 2,914p while the biggest fallers were Rolls-Royce Holdings down 10p to 668p, BT Group down 4.1p to 366.9p, and DCC down 55p to 6,040p.
European shares were down about 1.6 per cent this year, reflecting political uncertainties in the region and concerns about the Italian banking industry.
Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB is down about 10 per cent, among the worst performers in Europe, following a 38 per cent slump in Italian banks this year on lingering concerns about the sector’s health. Germany’s Dax has risen 6.5 per cent in 2016, while France’s Cac is up 4 per cent. However, Spain’s Ibex has fallen 2.5 per cent.
Wall Street was flat after the open on the last trading day of 2016 due to losses across most sectors, but was still on track to record hefty gains for the year.
The S&P is on track to rise nearly 10 per cent this year, the Nasdaq 8.3 per cent and the Dow 13.7 per cent. The markets have shown surprising resilience to major political events, such as Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU and the election of Mr Trump as US president in November.
Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with utilities and telecom services taking the biggest hit. Cabela’s shares fell 6 per cent to $58.14 after US antitrust regulators requested additional information regarding Bass Pro Shops proposed acquisition of the hunting and fish gear retailer.
Mylan rose 1.7 per cent to $38.02 after the drug maker launched generic versions of two drugs. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,452 to 1,094.
On the Nasdaq, 1,123 issues fell and 1,092 advanced. The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 10 new lows.
– (Additional reporting Reuters/Bloomberg)