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Markets

European stocks close lower on New Year's Eve

  • Britain's benchmark index has lost more than 14 percent over the course of 2020, slammed by deadly coronavirus fallout and Brexit turmoil.
Published December 31, 2020

LONDON: European bourses fell Thursday with Britain set to leave the European single market on the back of an agreed trade deal on the final day of a tumultuous 2020.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index sank almost 1.5 percent to finish the year at 6,460.52 points in a half-day session, with sentiment also dented by the strong pound and tightening coronavirus restrictions.

Britain's benchmark index has lost more than 14 percent over the course of 2020, slammed by deadly coronavirus fallout and Brexit turmoil.

That represented the FTSE's worst slump since the notorious global financial crisis in 2008.

"With the UK exiting the EU, stifled by a blanket of (virus) restrictions, stocks are understandably risk averse as we head into the New Year," said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

"However, while short-term uncertainty will bring volatility, the promise of a Spring renewal is likely to bring plenty of upside in 2021."

In the eurozone meanwhile, the Paris CAC 40 shed nearly 0.9 percent to finish holiday-shortened trade at 5,551.41 points, giving a loss for the year of more than 7.1 percent.

Frankfurt had already shut for business on Wednesday, with the DAX 30 index seeing out the year with a daily fall of 0.3 percent.

However, it rose by 3.6 percent over the course of 2020, despite plummeting in the spring due to the effects of the pandemic.

Markets were buoyed this week by the ramping-up of Covid-19 vaccination drives in Europe, the signing of a pandemic stimulus plan in the United States and the conclusion of the post-Brexit trade deal.

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