December 28, 2017 / 8:26 AM / in a year

European shares drift into year-end as resources stocks glitter

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares inched lower on Thursday with company news and macro events scarce in holiday-thinned trading, while Britain’s FTSE 100 hovered just under a record high.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 28, 2017. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3 percent, while euro zone blue chips .STOXX50E slipped 0.7 percent.

A rally in commodity prices continued to support the resources-heavy FTSE 100 .FTSE index, which ended flat. Europe's basic resources index .SXPP was the best-performing sector, up 0.4 percent at its highest level in nearly 5 years.

Tech stocks .SX8P extended the previous session’s losses, when chipmakers were hit by concerns over demand for Apple’s iPhone X. Shares in Dialog Semiconductor (DLGS.DE) rebounded on Thursday, however.

The tech sector fell 0.8 percent on the day, but has gained more than 19 percent so far this year, the stand out performer in Europe.

More broadly, volumes have been muted and liquidity in short supply over the festive season in Europe, with little by way of company news to spur significant moves among single stocks.

Shares in BT (BT.L) fell 2.5 percent after the telecoms stock traded ex-dividend, while volatile Steinhoff (SNHG.DE) was among the top gainers, up 3 percent.

Italian bank Banco BPM (BAMI.MI) rose 2 percent after saying it had capital in excess of requirements set by the European Central Bank.

Serviced office provider IWG (IWG.L) fell 1.3 percent. The stock rose 27 percent in the previous session when it confirmed a bid approach from a Canadian private equity firm.

Nearing the year-end, European stocks have enjoyed a positive year, with the STOXX 600 up around 8 percent in 2017 as buoyant company earnings and a brighter economic backdrop have fueled the region’s equities.

Analysts also highlighted broader drivers of equity markets over the year.

“I think predominantly U.S. sentiment and tax reforms have really driven (stock markets), as well as central banks starting to get a lot more hawkish - the ECB joining the U.S. in some quantitative tightening, the opposite of the easing that we’ve had for years and years,” Henry Croft, research analyst at Accendo Markets, said.

Germany's DAX .GDAXI and Italy's benchmark .FTMIB are among this year's winners, up 13.1 percent and 15.4 percent respectively, while Britain's FTSE has managed to gain 6.7 percent.

Reporting by Kit Rees; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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