European stocks end 2018 with deep losses; worst year in a decade amid geopolitical uncertainties

  • Market focus is largely attuned to the progress on the U.S.-China trade standoff after hints emerged when President Donald Trump said he had a "very good call" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade.
  • Market sentiment remained on edge after survey data out of China on Monday suggested that China's manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected.

European stocks closed higher on the final day of 2018 but marked the year as its worst in a decade.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.38 percent higher. The FTSE 100 closed trading on the final day of the year, down 0.2 percent. The French CAC, meanwhile, closed more than 1 percent higher.

The German DAX is closed on Monday.

U.K.'s FTSE index is down more than 12 percent since the start of the year and has suffered its biggest one-year fall since the financial crisis in 2008 as investors digest uncertainty surrounding the country's exit from the European Union.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 has ended the year down 13 percent - its worst since the financial crisis. The DAX, has followed a similar trajectory, down more than 18 percent since the start of the year.

Market focus is largely attuned to the progress on the U.S.-China trade standoff after hints emerged when President Donald Trump said he had a "very good call" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to discuss trade. He also claimed that "big progress" was being made on this front. His statements have brought optimism to stocks worldwide that have been under pressure this year.

Following the tweet, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump "may be overstating how close the two sides are to an agreement," citing sources "familiar with the state of negotiations."

Trump's comments came after both he and Xi earlier this month agreed to a 90-day pause in tariff escalation.

However, market sentiment remained on edge after survey data out of China on Monday suggested that China's manufacturing activity in December contracted even more than expected.

Back in Europe, the deadlock around Brexit continues to concern investors. On Sunday, U.K. Trade Minister Liam Fox said there is a "50-50" chance that Brexit may be stopped if Parliament rejects the government's divorce deal with the European Union next month.

The U.K. Parliament is set to vote on the Brexit deal in the week starting January 14.