Europe shares close mixed with Brexit and the Fed in focus; Taylor Wimpey up 4.8%

  • European stocks finished flat on Friday as investors eyed Brexit developments and a more dovish outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
  • Autos stocks saw a poor performance throughout the session after Renault head Carlos Ghosn was indicted on two more financial misconduct charges.
  • GDP figures for the three months to November showed the U.K. economy hit its weakest pace of growth in six months.

Stocks in Europe saw little change on Friday, as investors tried to navigate through political uncertainty across the globe.

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The pan-European Stoxx 600 was basically flat at the end of the session, with sectors and bourses pointing in different directions.

Autos were the worst performing sector, as former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn was indicted on two new charges of financial misconduct. Shares of Renault, which Ghosn still heads, fell 2.2 percent as Reuters reported that Nissan was expanding its probe to include dealings that took place in the U.S., India, and Latin America.

Elsewhere in the sector, Volkswagen said on Friday that its deliveries rose 0.9 percent to a record 10.83 million last year, putting it neck-and-neck with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi in the race to be the world's biggest vehicle manufacturer.

Looking at individual stocks, U.K. housebuilder Taylor Wimpey was among the highest gainers, rising by 4.8 percent after a broker upgrade. The Swiss company Straumann was also among the top performers, gaining 3.2 percent after Reuters reported that its CEO wants to increase sales five-fold within a decade.

Stocks in the U.S. were trading lower on Friday as concerns grow over the partial government shutdown, which is now in its 21st day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and the Nasdaq all saw slight losses during the trading session.

Meanwhile, the dollar softened on Friday following dovish remarks from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed's Chairman Jerome Powell said on Thursday that he is "very worried" about the ballooning U.S. debt. "It's a long-run issue that we definitely need to face, and ultimately, will have no choice but to face," he said.

Back in Europe, there is also a strong focus on politics as the U.K.'s departure from the European Union approaches. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday in London that he hopes both sides will avoid a no-deal. U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Friday morning that there could be Brexit paralysis if lawmakers do not approve departure plans next week.

In terms of data, GDP figures showed the U.K. economy slowed down in the three months to November — hitting its weakest pace in six months.