European shares put up three.eight% loss for 2020 as coronavirus dominates; FTSE has worst 12 months since 2008


LONDON — European markets closed lower on Thursday, the final trading day of a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and extraordinary stimulus measures that have tried to mitigate the economic hit from the health crisis.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed 0.14% lower on New Year’s Eve after a shorter trading session. London’s FTSE index closed 1.45% lower on the final day that the U.K. is a de-facto member of the EU’s single market and customs union before Brexit is definitively implemented.

U.K. banks, retailers and home builders were among the stocks trading lower Thursday, with sentiment likely affected by both Brexit uncertainty and further restrictions on public life announced by the U.K. government on Wednesday due to the rate of coronavirus infection.

Year-to-date, the Stoxx 600 index closed down 3.8%, however it was up nearly 11% for the quarter. Looking at individual indexes, the FTSE was down over 14% year-to-date, marking its worst year since 2008.

Meanwhile, the French CAC 40 was down 7%, German DAX up 3.5% and Italy’s FTSE MIB down 5.4%. The worst-performing market in the region has been Spain’s IBEX, down almost 15% this year.

China factory output data

Nearly all European markets ended 2020 on a somber note, following lackluster end-of-year trade in Asia and with U.S. stock futures largely flat early Thursday morning. Markets in Europe closed early on Thursday, by 1 p.m. London time.


Katherine Clark