Europe close: Santa holds sway in London, but Madrid and Paris fall

With many stock markets on holiday already or due to close early, volumes remained minimal across Europe on Christmas Eve as low levels of newsflow prompted many traders to hit the road early.
Trading volumes were “thinner than the spread on Scrooge’s Christmas table”, according to analyst Chris Beauchamp from IG.

With German and Italian stock markets closed, London’s FTSE was the only main market to benefit from Christmas spirit, closing 0.2% higher, while Madrid’s Ibex 35 lost slight early gains to close down 0.06% and Paris’s CAC to fall 0.45% and lost some of its previous days’ gains.

Financial markets in the US, Europe and parts of Asia will be closed Thursday and Friday for Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations, though Japan and China will remain open.

The only major piece of economic data due out on Wednesday is the release of the US jobless claims figures for last week, though these are due out after European markets close. Claims are expected to have risen just 1,000 to 290,000 in the week ended 20 December.

On the periphery, Turkey’s central bank left all of its official interest rates unchanged today, which was anticipated by economists.

The FTSE was boosted by surging shares in Smith & Nephew as rumours that US surgical implants group Stryker Corp could return to the table to launch a takeover offer within weeks.

Media reports suggested Stryker was looking to make a bid at a premium of around 30% to S&N’s current share price.

In Madrid rumours about Banco Santander’s potential interest in expanding its Portugese interests were confirmed by the company, which formally announced its interest in acquiring the ‘good assets’ of Banco Esprito Santo (BES) as part of the sale process launched by the Portuguese central bank.

Santander is interested in buying Novo Banco, the bank created and then taken over by the state in August after the Bank of Portugal bailed out its predecessor BES with €4.9bn in capital from the Portuguese bank resolution fund. Santander shares were down slightly on the news on Wednesday.

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