European Stocks Little Changed With Low Volume Before Christmas

  • France's CAC 40 falls, while Spain's IBEX 35 climbs 3rd day
  • PostNL surges for fourth day on speculation for a takeover bid

European equities trimmed a weekly advance amid little trading and shut markets on Christmas eve.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent, with the volume of shares changing hands about 80 percent lower than the 30-day average. Markets in the U.K., France and the Netherlands are among those that closed early on Thursday, while Germany, Switzerland and Italy were shut all day. Most equity exchanges will reopen on Dec. 28, except Britain, whose shares will resume trading the following day.

European stocks advanced for a second week after a 2.7 percent rally yesterday led by commodity and oil producers. Sill, the Stoxx 600 is set for its worst December since 2002 as the European Central Bank’s boost in stimulus fell short of investors’ expectations and the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.

“European markets are relatively flat with thin volumes after a big rally yesterday,” said Ben Kumar, who helps oversee about $14 billion as an investment manager at Seven Investment Management in London. “Disappointment over Mario Draghi’s easing program was a massive overreaction from European markets and it seems to be depressing sentiment again, as it has all through December.”

Among the main markets that opened on Thursday, France’s CAC 40 Index fell 0.2 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.2 percent and Spain’s IBEX 35 Index advanced 0.4 percent, up for a third day after Sunday’s inconclusive election.

Dutch mail-delivery company PostNL NV jumped 13 percent on a takeover report, taking its four-day rally to 23 percent, the most since February 2012. Belgian real estate company Banimmo sank 8.6 percent after saying it won’t pay a dividend for 2015.

The Stoxx 600 has advanced 6.9 percent this year. After rallying as much as 21 percent earlier amid a weakening of the euro, concerns ranging from Greece exiting the euro area to China’s economy slowing down and the rout in commodities dragged shares lower. On Thursday, the European gauge was 12 percent below its April record, taking its valuation to 16 times estimated earnings -- lower than the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and a gauge of global equities.

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