By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
European stock markets were tantalizingly close to a fresh record on Friday, but stymied by slight disappointment over U.S. jobs data.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.20% was flat at 419.81, after closing up 0.3% to 419.64 on Thursday, just 0.02% off a late December 2019 record finish of 419.74. The German DAX 30 index /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -0.71% rose 0.2% to 13,523.77, following a gain of 1.31% on Thursday, which left it 0.5% off a January 2018 record close of 13559.60.
U.S. stocks swept to record highs again on Thursday, as investors focused on positive developments on the trade front and an easing of concerns about war in the Middle East. Attention has shifted away from an intense focus on geopolitics for Friday, though, to an important reading on the U.S. economy.
U.S. stock futures indicated modestly higher gains for Wall Street after a jobs rise of 145,000 in December, which came in slightly short of forecasts for a gain of around 166,000. The data also showed that workers are still not reaping a windfall from a stronger market in the form of higher pay.
In Europe, fresh data showed French industrial production beat expectations in November, with a gain of 0.3%.
The heavily-weighted banking sector stood out as a drag on European stocks, with HSBC Holdings /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC -0.27% /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA -0.71% down 0.5%, Banco Santander /zigman2/quotes/205677933/delayed ES:SAN -1.05% /zigman2/quotes/202859081/composite SAN -1.32% falling 0.6% and Lloyds Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/200709414/composite LYG -1.35% /zigman2/quotes/202285510/delayed UK:LLOY -0.79% dropping 2.4%.
Leading the gainers, shares of Ryanair Holdings /zigman2/quotes/205429530/delayed IE:RY4C -3.18% surged nearly 7% after the cut-price airline lifted full-year guidance for fiscal 2020 due to a strong Christmas period, though said its Austrian subsidiary Laudamotion continues to struggle.
“This could be the first demonstration of a recovery in sector profits due to slower short-haul capacity growth as the [Boeing /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +1.92% ] Max remains grounded,” analysts Daniel Röska and Alex Irving at AB Bernstein told clients in a note.
“If a more benign capacity is indeed the root cause of the upgrade, Ryanair is unlikely to be the only one to benefit,” they said.
Other airline stocks tracked Ryanair higher, with easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ -6.55% rising 3.3% and multinational airline holding company International Consolidated Airlines Group /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG -4.82% up 4.7%.
On the downside, shares of B&M European Value Retail /zigman2/quotes/208742159/delayed UK:BME +0.02% tumbled close to 7% after the budget retailer said like-for-like sales at its core U.K. business were slower-than-expected over Christmas.