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Europe: Shares drift lower into year-end as resources stocks glitter

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[LONDON] European shares drifted lower in early deals on Thursday with company news and macro events scarce in holiday-thinned trading, while Britain's FTSE 100 hovered just under a record high.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.1 per cent, while blue chips slipped 0.2 per cent.

A rally in commodity prices continued to support the resources-heavy FTSE 100 index, which gained 0.1 per cent. Europe's basic resources index was the best-performing sector, up 0.5 per cent.

Tech stocks extended the previous session's losses, when chipmakers were hit by concerns over demand for Apple's iPhone X.

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The tech sector was down 0.3 per cent on the day, but has gained more than 20 per cent so far this year, the standout performer in Europe.

More broadly, volumes have been muted and liquidity in short supply over the festive season in Europe, with little by way of company news to spur significant moves among single stocks.

Shares in BT were among the biggest fallers, down 1.7 per cent after the telecoms stock traded ex-dividend, while volatile Steinhoff was the top gainer, up 4 per cent.

Nearing the year-end, European stocks have enjoyed a positive year, with the STOXX 600 up around 8 per cent in 2017 as buoyant company earnings and a brighter economic backdrop have fuelled the region's equities.

Germany's DAX and Italy's benchmark are among this year's winners, up 13.8 per cent and 15.4 per cent respectively, while Britain's FTSE has managed to gain 6.7 per cent.

REUTERS