German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 28, 2022. Reuters

European shares slipped in the last trading session of a rough year marked by geopolitical tensions and fears of a recession as central banks tightened monetary policies.

The STOXX 600 fell 0.5% in thin trading on Friday, as surging COVID-19 cases in China stoked concerns over global economic growth. The regional index is on track to end the year 12.2% lower, its worst performance since 2018.

China-exposed luxury firms such as LVMH and Hermes International declined 1.0% and 1.9%.

Industrials and banks weighed on the index, while tech stocks slid 0.9%, giving up some of previous session's sharp gains.

The rate-sensitive tech sector had rallied on Thursday, tracking gains in Wall Street peers as U.S. unemployment data signalled the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes might have started denting labour market strength. [.N]

Tech stocks are among the worst performers this year, down 28%, as major central banks hiked interest rates globally.

The European Central Bank eased the pace of its interest rate hikes earlier this month but stressed significant tightening remained ahead and laid out plans to drain cash from the financial system.

"This is the beginning of a new era, when central banks will be playing a more subdued role in the markets, with less liquidity available to fix problems - a more than necessary move that came perhaps too late, and too painfully," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

"Given that there is still plenty of cheap central bank liquidity waiting to be pulled back, the situation may not get better before it gets worse in the first quarters of next year."

GRAPHIC : ECB hikes rates again ECB hikes rates again -


Energy stocks bucked the downtrend this year, as crude prices rallied on tight supplies due to the Ukraine war. [O/R]

Sharp commodity-linked gains and a weak sterling have also helped UK's export-heavy FTSE 100 outperform peers this year amid political and economic turmoil.

UK saw the death of its longest-reigning monarch in 2022 and three prime ministers occupying Downing Street in the second half of the year amid a worsening cost of living crisis that sparked strikes and protests across Europe. [.L]

The FTSE 100 slipped 0.3% in half-day trading on Friday but was still set to end the year in green. All the European indexes declined in early trading, with Germany and Ireland also open for half-day.

On an upbeat note, data showed Spanish December consumer prices rose 5.8%, their slowest annual pace this year, thanks to lower electricity prices compared to a year ago.

Telecom Italia (TIM) fell 2.4% after Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Thursday reiterated that the government wanted to take control of the former phone monopoly's fixed network assets and safeguard employment levels.

Graphic : Energy stocks outpace European sectors -