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* STOXX 600 ends 2016 in negative territory
* FTSE among top performers in Europe, hits record high
* Italy's FTSE MIB among biggest losers
By Kit Rees and Atul Prakash
LONDON, Dec 30 European shares posted a small
loss for 2016, though strong gains among mining stocks and the
oil & gas sector as well as a turnaround in banks in the latter
part of the year lent support, while Britain's FTSE 100 index
climbed to a record high.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended the session
up 0.3 percent with almost all major regional indexes higher.
Reversing steep losses from early in the year, mining stocks
helped Europe's basic resources index to a 61.9-percent
gain this year, bouncing back from a 35-percent slump in 2015.
The bounce in miners also helped Britain's FTSE 100 to gain
14.4 percent in 2016, making it the best performer among major
European stock indexes despite the shock of June's Brexit vote.
The index, dominated by global firms, has been boosted by a
sharp drop in sterling after the referendum and the resilience
of the economy.
"The latest GDP figures point to a strong UK economy which
has probably accounted for some of the pick-up in equity prices
overall since the referendum," KPMG UK's head of macroeconomics,
Yael Selfin, said.
The second half of the year also saw a sharp rebound in
banking stocks as an improving global economic outlook, a rising
U.S. interest rate environment and expectations of a lower level
of regulation in the United States after Donald Trump's
presidential election win prompted investors to buy cyclicals.
The European banking index rose 12 percent in the
third quarter and has surged 21.5 percent so far in the fourth
quarter, after sinking 20 percent in the January-March period of
2016 and falling 13 percent in the second quarter.
The banking index, which fell about 35 percent in the first
half to become the worst sectoral performer, is now down just
6.8 percent for the year. Telecoms have now fallen to
the bottom of the list, falling 15.8 percent this year.
Across Europe, the STOXX Europe 600 index is down 1.2
percent this year, reflecting political uncertainties in the
region and concerns about the Italian banking industry.
Italy's benchmark FTSE MIB is down about 10
percent, among the worst performers in Europe, following a 38-
percent slump in the bank sector this year.
Germany's DAX has risen 6.9 percent in 2016, while
France's CAC is up 4.9 percent. However, Spain's IBEX
has fallen 2 percent.
On Friday, the STOXX 600, the FTSE 100, the DAX, the CAC and
the IBEX ended down between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)