Insider Economy European stocks fall on profit-taking amid holiday lull

European stocks fall on profit-taking amid holiday lull

The pan-European STOXX 600 index began a holiday-shortened week with a 0.4% fall, with France’s EssilorLuxottica among the biggest drags on the index.

The spectacles company shed 2.2%, eyeing its worst day in four weeks, after saying it had discovered fraudulent activity at a plant in Thailand that was expected to cost the company 190 million euros ($213 million).

The lull was also reflected in major country indexes, with Frankfurt shares declining more than half a percent in the absence of any major updates on a U.S.-China trade truce. Spanish stocks dropped 0.5%, while London-listed shares dipped 0.3%.

“Volumes are about 50% below average and people are doing as little as possible: a little bit of profit taking and a little bit of window dressing as it’s the year end,” said Mark Taylor, a sales trader at Mirabaud.

After somewhat choppy trading earlier in the year, European equities have enjoyed a strong December as investors received clarity on two of the major risks to global economic growth: the U.S.-China trade war and Brexit.

Fairly upbeat economic data from around the world has also eased recession fears, with latest figures showing Spain’s economy growing 0.4% in the third quarter, in line with a flash estimate.

But with just two days left until the end of the decade, few major updates are expected on the initial Sino-U.S. trade agreement, giving stock prices little motivation to move much from current levels.

Among individual stocks, Italian state-owned lender Monte dei Paschi di Siena gained 0.9% as it completed three disposals of impaired loans for around 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion), surpassing a goal set in its restructuring plan two years ahead of time.

Norway-based Elkem, a supplier of silicone and silicon materials, rose 2% after agreeing to acquire Polysil, a Chinese maker of silicone elastomer and resins.

(Reuters)

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