European stocks steadied on Friday, the final trading day of 2017, and were set to record their strongest year of gains since 2013 thanks to a surge among tech stocks and a robust resources sector.
The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> index was down 0.1 percent in thin volumes on the day, while euro zone blue chips <.STOXX50E> declined 0.2 percent.
Britain’s FTSE 100 <.FTSE> hit a new record and was 0.2 percent higher in a half-day of trading for the index, while Italian equities <.FTMIB> declined 0.4 percent after the president dissolved parliament on Thursday and an election day was scheduled for March 4.
Overall 2017 has been a positive year for European stocks, fuelled by strong company earnings, a supportive economic backdrop and an absence of major political upsets.
The STOXX is set to end 2017 with a gain of 7.7 percent, its strongest year since 2013. Germany <.GDAXI> and Italy’s <.FTMIB> benchmarks have been standout performers, rising 12.8 percent and 14.5 percent respectively this year.
Periphery markets have also had a strong year, with Greece’s benchmark <.ATG> up 23.5 percent while Portugal <.PSI20> has gained 14.7 percent.
Britain’s FTSE 100 <.FTSE> has lagged slightly, rising 7 percent in 2017, as has Spain’s IBEX <.IBEX>, which is up 7.6 percent as the crisis in Catalonia curbed enthusiasm for Spanish equities in the latter part of the year.
Brexit uncertainty has dented sentiment towards UK equities, while a recovering pound has also put pressure on the blue chips’ large proportion of overseas earners.
Looking ahead to 2018, investors remain upbeat about the region’s stock market although there are concerns that a further rise in the euro could erode earnings and political risks could slow the economy.
“Brexit is going to be very much the same story as last year … that’s just going to weigh constantly on the markets,” Jasper Reimers, senior analyst at Vertex Capital, said.
Among sectors, this year has been dominated by a near-20 percent rise among Europe’s tech stocks <.SX8P>, closely followed by basic resources <.SXPP>. Chipmaker AMS has been the top-gaining firm on the STOXX, surging 208 percent in 2017.
Telecoms <.SXKP>, retail <.SXRP> and media <.SXMP> have brought up the rear, with year-to-date losses ranging between 2.4 to 3.7 percent.
Furniture retailer Steinhoff <SNHG.DE> is the worst-performing individual stock this year, down 93.6 percent in 2017 after its CEO resigned amid an accounting probe.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Toby Chopra)