Markets quiet ahead of Christmas

European stocks were little changed, after two straight weeks of gains, as investors kicked off the last full week of trading of the year.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell just 0.13pc in London. The Stoxx 600 is on course for its first annual decline since the peak of the sovereign-debt crisis in 2011, while the UK’s FTSE-100 is poised for its best rally in three years as a post-Brexit slump in the pound boosted its exporters.

“Having come off a decent December so far for European stocks, which have seen a number of significant breakouts, the key question as we head into year-end is whether these gains of the past two weeks are likely to be sustained,” said Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

In a reversal of the recent rotation into cyclical shares, miners and banks declined as defensive stocks including utilities, real estate and technology firms advanced.

Lenders fell for a second day. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena tumbled 11pc after saying it would sell shares to institutional investors until Thursday, as it aims to complete raising funds by year-end to avoid a rescue by the Italian government.

In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index dipped 0.2pc to 6,483.45. The index is down 2.38pc over the past year.

Shares in Bank of Ireland slid just over 3pc to 23.6 cent.

Ryanair fell 1.8pc to €14.62, while shares in Permanent TSB fell 4.9pc to €2.60.

Property investment firms strengthened.

Hibernia REIT advanced 2.1pc to €1.22 and Green REIT rose 1.9pc to €1.34.

The UK’s FTSE-100 was flat.

Germany’s DAX was 0.2pc higher for the session. France’s CAC-40 dipped 0.2pc, however.

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