EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Flirt With Best Year Since 2013 As Tech, Mining Stocks Rally 20%

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatchFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Euro jumps 14% in 2017

European stocks traded in tight ranges on Friday, staying on course for their best year since 2013, with technology and basic resources stocks leading the charge north.

Continue Reading Below

What are markets doing?

The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.1% to 389.26, in seasonally light trade on the last trading day of the year.

For 2017, the pan-European benchmark was on track for a 7.7% advance, which would be its biggest annual jump since its 17% in 2013.

Germany's DAX 30 index fell 0.4% to 12,929.65 on Friday, trimming its yearly gain to 12.6%.

France's CAC 40 index lost 0.1% to 5,332.31 and headed for a 9.7% 2017 gain.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.4% to 7,656.34 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/uk-stocks-set-to-finish-2017-at-record-high-2017-12-29), on course for a fresh record close and a 7.2% gain for the year.

The euro rose to $1.1985 from $1.1943 late Thursday in New York. For the full year, the shared currency was on track for a 14% rise against the dollar.

Read:Dollar set to suffer worst year since 2003 with 10% yearly loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-set-to-suffer-worst-year-since-2003-with-10-yearly-loss-2017-12-29)

What's been driving the markets?

Stocks globally have had a stellar year, but European stocks have underperformed largely due to the strong euro. A stronger currency makes European products more expensive for foreign buyers, hurting the continent's many major export companies.

Technology companies, in particular, have had a bumper year, which is one of the reasons the U.S.'s Nasdaq Composite Index is up almost 30% on the year. Europe's tech companies have rallied 20% in 2017, making it one of the best performing sectors in the Europe. Tech stocks make up a smaller portion of the market in Europe than in the U.S.

Mining stocks have also had a strong year, helped in part by a late-2017 rally in metals prices. The Stoxx Europe 600 basis resources index is up 19% for the full year.

What are strategists saying?

"We are constructive on European equities heading into 2018 and think the cyclical bull market has further to run. We see upside risks to EPS forecasts (which is for 11% EPS growth) and buoyant corporate activity should provide support to valuations and the growth outlook," strategists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said in their year-ahead outlook.

Read:4 reasons Wall Street banks have the hots for Europe in 2018 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/4-reasons-wall-street-banks-have-the-hots-for-europe-in-2018-2017-12-20)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 29, 2017 06:51 ET (11:51 GMT)