MILAN (Reuters) - European shares fell on Monday as worries over a prolonged government shutdown and the position of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell added to angst about slowing economic growth, keeping stocks set for their biggest yearly loss in a decade
Activity was thin, however, with many markets closed or trading for a half-day only before the Christmas holiday.
“Markets still under pressure from last week’s more hawkish Fed update, exacerbating fears about slowing growth and more expensive refinancing following years of stimulus,” said Mike van Dulken, Head of Research at Accendo Markets.
European shares are down nearly 14 percent year-to-date and on track for their worst year since 2008, having fallen back to a two-year-low on last week's rate outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve. For graphic on Biggest yearly loss, click tmsnrt.rs/2GNjshY
The UK’s complicated divorce from the EU, Italy’s contested budget and a trade spat between Washington and Beijing have also been weighing this year, forcing analysts to progressively cut their earnings growth estimates for European companies.
On Monday, investors were also fretting about political stability in the United States after an aide to President Donald Trump said the partial government shutdown could continue into the new year.
Corporate news was thin but the pan-European exchange operator Euronext (ENX.PA) said it aimed to buy the Oslo stock exchange for 625 million euros.
Among major European benchmarks, Germany’s export-oriented DAX index, which is heavily exposed to China, is set to be the worst performer, down more than 17 percent so far in 2018.
France’s CAC and Britain’s FTSE 100 are down about 13 percent and Italy’s FTSE MIB lost 15.8 percent.
For graphic on European shares set to end 2018 at 2-year low, click tmsnrt.rs/2GGiNir
Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Kevin Liffey