European stocks retreat in thin trading, set to end 2020 with losses

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Trading volumes were thin, with many traders away on New Year’s Eve and major European bourses closed.

The pan-European STOXX 600 recorded a 3.8% drop in 2020 – lagging Asian and Wall Street equities that traded near record highs – as a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, as well as Brexit concerns weighed on the markets.

The German DAX ended 2020 with a 3.5% gain on Wednesday and just below all-time highs, while Italy’s FTSE MIB was down 5.4% for the year.

In light trading, UK’s FTSE 100 fell 1.5% and France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.7%. Both markets will close early on Thursday.

London markets took a bigger blow as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered millions more people to live under the strictest COVID-19 restrictions to counter a new variant.

France’s Airbus, Safran (PA:SAF) and liquor makers Pernod Ricard (PA:PERP) and Remy Cointreau fell about 1% after the U.S. government said it would raise tariffs on EU products including aircraft components and wines from France and Germany, the latest twist in a 16-year battle over aircraft subsidies between Washington and Brussels.