FTSE ends lower, Spanish banks fall as separatists win Catalonia election

European stock markets posted drops during Friday’s trade, as investors digested the latest in political and economic news, before finishing off for the Christmas break.

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended 0.15 percent lower in a shortened session. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 were trading lower as the U.K. market closed. Spain’s IBEX 35 meanwhile dropped as much as 1.5 percent at the open, before paring some losses. Trading was light across the continent in the last session ahead of the Christmas holiday.

It’s all about politics and economics

Shares pulled back following news coming out of Spain. The region’s stocks fell Friday, after Catalonia’s separatists appeared set to regain power in the region, following local elections that took place Thursday. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that the absolute majority win by the separatists was a victory of the “Catalan republic” over the Spanish state, Reuters reported.

Following the independence vote earlier this year, the news is set to continue to shake up the nation’s political crisis between Catalonia and Madrid. The euro slipped against a number of currencies during trade, including the U.S. dollar and British pound.

Markets have been digesting news surrounding U.S. tax reform, after Congress announced that it had approved an overhaul of the U.S. tax code which looks to cut corporate tax rates. Following the vote, a number of U.S. firms pledged to spend the savings on higher wages and new construction, lifting sentiment on Wall Street and in Asia.

Elsewhere, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to advance a short-term spending bill in order to fund the government through until mid-January.

Banks tumble

Overall, banks posted big declines Friday, with Spanish lenders falling to the bottom of the index after the Catalonia news emerged. Shortly after 1 p.m. London time, Caixabank, Banco Santander and Banco de Sabadell were all off 2 percent or more, sitting at the bottom of the STOXX 600.

In individual stock news, pharmaceutical firm Roche and Ignyta announced Friday, that they had entered into a definitive merger agreement for Roche to fully acquire the U.S. biotech firm, for $1.7 billion, paying $27.00 per share for Ignyta. Roche dipped into the red during trade.

On Friday, Germany’s innogy announced that it was advancing its strategy in renewables expansion, into the U.S. market, by acquiring an onshore wind pipeline of more than 2 gigawatts. Shares of the energy firm rose near the top of the STOXX 600.

In data news, the Office for National Statistics confirmed that gross domestic product in the U.K. had grown by 0.4 percent on the quarter, highlighting how British households had increased their spending at the slowest annual pace in some 5 years, Reuters reported.

Source: CNBC

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