Europe closes lower amid political jitters

European bourses closed lower Friday as political uncertainty in Italy and France intensified and investors eyed key jobs data.

The Stoxx 600 ended 0.44 percent lower with all major bourses and almost all sectors in the red. The French CAC fell 0.7 percent while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 and German DAX were down 0.33 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

Sunday’s referendum in Italy continued to worry investors as it could spark fresh elections and complicate the recapitalization process of Italian banks. The Italian MIB ended a choppy final trading day before the upcoming referendum fractionally lower and Italian banks’ shares finished mixed.

Furthermore, President Francois Hollande of France announced Thursday he would not be seeking a second term in the country’s upcoming presidential election. Elsewhere, traders were eyeing the outcome of Sunday’s Austrian presidential election re-run.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average continued marginally lower Friday as investors digested key jobs data. Nonfarm payrolls increased 178,000 in November from the previous month. U.S. employment data hit 4.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly a decade.

This fresh data comes as global bond yields ticked higher on Thursday with increasing speculation that the Federal Reserve could hike rates later this month.

“Another solid employment report all but guarantees another Fed rate hike this month. We expect increasing pressures for the Fed to pick up the pace of tightening next year,” Mark Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer of Penn Mutual Asset Management told CNBC in a note.

Basic resources on Friday contracted more than 1.15 percent, continuing its current slide on disappointing data and recent weakness in metal prices. Oil and gas stocks closed down by more than 0.7 percent though oil prices edged slightly higher a the close.

Brent crude was up 0.22 percent as the European session closed and was trading around $54.06 a barrel while WTI rose 0.33 percent to $51.25 a barrel.

Meanwhile, shares of the Spanish Banco Popular fell and just avoided hitting the bottom of the Stoxx 600 bank index on the news that the bank’s chairman was being replaced.

Shares of Berkeley Group were up by more than 8 percent after the housebuilder announced a 34 percent increase in its pretax profits during the first half of the year.

Source: CNBC