Europe’s major benchmarks were set to end a tumultuous week on a slightly softer note, with investors’ focus turning from a separatist crisis in Catalonia to U.S. jobs data expected later in the day.
The pan-European STOXX 600 dipped 0.1 percent in early trading, but remained on track for its fourth straight weekly gains. Spain’s IBEX declined 0.2 percent after a strong rally in the previous session as nerves over Catalonian independence eased.
The main Spanish benchmark was set for a 1.7 percent fall on the week, having hit its lowest in more than six months on Wednesday as investors sold Spanish assets in the deepening political crisis.
Shares in Catalonia-headquartered Caixabank and Banco Sabadell fell as much as 1.7 percent on Friday, slightly declining after the previous session’s strong rally on news they were looking to move their base out of the capital Barcelona.
Despite the Catalan crisis both stocks remain among the best-performing euro zone banks, up more than 20 percent year-to-date.
Euro zone stocks, though also slightly lower on the day, were set for a sixth week of gains and held near five-month highs.
Germany’s DAX inched up to a fresh record high in early deals. A weakening euro has supported the exporter-heavy index.
Overall moves were modest as investors’ focus turned away from the Catalan crisis and instead to non-farm payrolls data from the U.S. later on Friday, with analysts expecting to see a hit from Hurricane Harvey.
Portuguese utility EDP fell 2.4 percent after Credit Suisse analysts cut the stock to “underperform”, pointing to regulatory reviews of the sector in Portugal.
Shares in Irish construction materials firm CRH were hit after its acquisition target Ash Grove Cement received a higher bid.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Kit Rees)