* FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.3 pct
* Last full session of the year
* FTSEurofirst 300 set to gain 16 pct in 2013
* Euro zone's Euro STOXX 50 set to gain 18 pct in 2013
* Autos surge, miners tumble in 2013
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Dec 30 European stock indexes stayed on
track on Monday to post their biggest annual gains in four years
after signs of economic recovery coupled with a long run of
cheap central bank money prompted investors to scoop up shares.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares
ended its last full session of the year down 0.2 percent at
1,311.76 points in thin holiday trade, set to post a gain of
around 16 percent for 2013, its best annual performance since
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index
ended 0.3 percent lower at 3,100.93 points, poised to report a
gain of 18 percent for the year, also its strongest since 2009.
Stock markets in London, Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels
and Lisbon will close around midday on Tuesday, while other
major European markets including Italy, Germany and Switzerland
will remain closed on Tuesday for the New Year holiday break.
"This year has seen the renaissance of equities as the
financial crisis ended. Next year should see the end of the
economic crisis, and it should bring more opportunities for
stock investors," said David Thebault, head of quantitative
sales trading at Global Equities in Paris.
European shares, which have enjoyed brisk investment inflows
in the second half of this year, have rallied as investor
worries over Spain and Italy abated, Europe's macroeconomic
indicators improved, and the European Central Bank and the U.S.
Federal Reserve provided massive liquidity.
Earlier this month, the Fed announced that it would slightly
trim its unprecedented monetary easing programme, but investors
took heart in stronger U.S. economic data and a commitment from
the Fed to keep interest rates low for longer.
Among European sectors, the STOXX auto sector, home
of companies such as Volkswagen and Renault,
has been the best sector in 2013, up 38 percent. Telecoms
and media also performed well, both up about 33
percent on the year, boosted by a wave of M&A deals.
Bucking the trend, the basic resources sector,
including mining groups Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton
, took a beating during the year, tumbling 14 percent as
metal prices fell, including gold and copper.
Around Europe on Monday, UK's FTSE 100 index ended
down 0.3 percent, France's CAC 40 down 0.05 percent,
while Spain's IBEX gained 0.02 percent and Italy's FTSE
MIB rose 0.06 percent.
Germany's DAX, which closed for the year at 1300
GMT on Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday and Wednesday
for the New Year break, ended the day down 0.4 percent after
hitting a record high of 9,594.35 points in morning trade.
The country's blue-chip index - home of bellwethers such as
Siemens and Deutsche Bank - finished the
year with a gain of 26 percent, outpacing pan-European indexes,
as investors favoured shares from the region's biggest economy.
Despite the positive sentiment following the year-end rally
in European equities, IG France Chief Market Strategist
Alexandre Baradez warned of the risk of a correction in the
first quarter of 2014.
"All the positive catalysts have been priced in already, and
the level of euphoria on the market is quite high, which is not
a good sign," he said.
"We're in for a serious correction in the next few months,
which should shake up things a little bit and bring good buying