By Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain
(Reuters) -Europe’s STOXX 600 index closed flat on Friday, for its sixth straight weekly gain, as hopes of slowing interest rate hikes offset a real estate sector sell-off and retailers were hurt by fears of a bumpy holiday shopping season.
The pan-European stock index hit a more than three-month high earlier this week.
Europe’s retail index fell 0.6% on Black Friday, which kicks off the shopping season, against the backdrop of a worsening cost-of-living crisis and distraction of the soccer World Cup. The index is among the worst-performing sectors in Europe, with a 32% drop so far this year.
Real estate stocks slid 0.9%, after driving a market rally the previous session. UK housing stocks led the declines as a survey showed rental home demand in Britain rose in October as prospective first-time buyers put off purchases.
Still, the benchmark STOXX 600 gained 1.7% this week on signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve could slow its interest-rate hikes and corporate earnings have turned out better than expected this season.
The index has rallied more than 15% since hitting a trough in late September, slightly outperforming a 13% climb in the S&P 500 from its October lows.
“As we are about to enter 2023 and transition from inflation to disinflation, we think equities should face less pressure from the rates markets,” Emmanuel Cau, European equity strategist at Barclays, wrote in a note.
“However, we caution against extrapolating the recent risk-on into the new year, amid a still unfavourable growth-policy trade-off and toppish market technicals.”
Investors on Thursday largely looked past minutes of the European Central Bank’s October meeting that showed policymakers feared inflation may be getting entrenched and so rates would need to rise further.
Data on Friday showed the German economy grew slightly more in the third quarter than preliminary figures had suggested, bolstered by consumer spending.
Among individual stocks, Credit Suisse slid 6.6% to a record low in the wake of capital raise plans and a weak earnings report released this week.
Rockwool gained 4% after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the Danish stone-wool manufacturer’s stock.
Elia Group added 4% after the Belgian grid operator raised its 2022 outlook and announced a five-year capex plan.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza, Arun Koyyur and Richard Chang)