European shares were lower on Thursday, the final trading day of a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and extraordinary stimulus measures that have tried to mitigate the economic hit from the health crisis.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was 0.3% lower on New Year’s Eve, with all sectors in negative territory apart from the retail sector.
London’s FTSE index was down 1.3% on the final day that the U.K. is a de-facto member of the EU’s single market and customs union before Brexit is definitively implemented.
U.K. banks, retailers and home builders were among the stocks trading lower Thursday, with sentiment likely affected by both Brexit uncertainty and further restrictions on public life announced by the U.K. government on Wednesday due to the rate of coronavirus infection.
Year-to-date, the Stoxx 600 index is down 3.7%, however it is up nearly 11% for the quarter. Looking at individual indexes, the FTSE is down 13% year-to-date, the French CAC 40 down 6.3%, German DAX up 3.5% and Italy’s FTSE MIB down 5.4%. The worst-performing market in the region has been Spain’s IBEX, down 15% this year.