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Europe ends on a negative note, as weakness on Wall Street weighs on sentiment

Key Points
  • The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.7 percent provisionally, with the majority of sectors ending trade in negative territory
  • Overseas, U.S. stocks tumbled Friday, following a report that Michael Flynn was directed by President Trump to talk to Russians
  • Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is reportedly now prepared to testify against Trump

European equities finished the last trading day of the week in the red, as investors turned their attention to news coming out of the U.S., regarding tax and politics.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.7 percent provisionally, with the majority of sectors ending trade in negative territory. On the week, the STOXX 600 closed down 0.69 percent.

Looking to bourses, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 0.36 percent by the close, while France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX fell further, ending down 1.04 and 1.25 percent respectively.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

Markets in Europe came under severe pressure in the last half hour of trade, after news out of the U.S. rattled sentiment in both regions.

U.S. stocks tanked on Friday, following a report by ABC News which claimed Michael Flynn was directed by President Trump to talk to Russians, and would testify that he was directed to make contact. The major averages hit their session lows, with the Dow Jones industrial average briefly tumbling more than 300 points before paring somewhat.

Switching back to Europe, the high-flying tech sector was one of the worst performers Friday amid a sign of investors' anxiety about parts of the market that have seen robust performance inflows this year. The sector slipped 1.58 percent.

Autos fell further, closing down 1.88 percent, with French and German automakers slipping to the bottom of the group. Travel & leisure, Oil & Gas, and Basic Resources, were the only sectors to provisionally close in the black.

Looking at individual stocks, Royal Mail tumbled near to the bottom of the European benchmark, after Deutsche Bank, Berenberg and Jefferies all cut their target price for the stock. Shares fell almost 4 percent by the close. Peugeot slipped 2.73 percent after Citigroup cut its rating and price target on the stock.

Meanwhile, Indivior rose 3 percent by the close, off its session highs, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its Sublocade treatment for opioid-use disorder. The U.K. pharma firm said the treatment would be made available in the U.S. in the first three months of 2018.

Media outlet, Daily Mail and General Trust finished at the top of the STOXX 600, up over 5 percent, recovering some of the sharp losses it posted in the previous session.

Tax bill

Late Thursday, Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their tax bill only hours before a planned final vote. Lawmakers will rework the legislation through the evening in order to try and win over skeptical senators.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the next in a series of roll call votes would take place Friday. On the last trading day of the week, Senate Republicans said they had the votes needed to pass their tax overhaul.

The news surrounding tax was supposed to be the main focus for U.S. investors Friday, however the news surrounding Flynn took prominence by Europe's close.

OPEC agrees to extend oil cuts through 2018

Elsewhere, crude oil futures built on gains made Thursday after OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to extend supply cuts until the end of 2018. The world's major oil producers also signaled a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats.

At the market close, Brent crude and U.S. WTI both rose more than 2 percent each, trading at $63.82 and $58.37, respectively. Oil stocks also posted solid gains, with Tullow Oil rising over 3 percent.