European shares set for best year since 2013 on tech and mining surge

Brexit uncertainty has dented sentiment towards UK equities

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European stocks steadied in early deals on Friday, the final trading day of the year, and were set to record their strongest year of gains since 2013 thanks to a surge among tech stocks and a robust resources sector.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was flat in percentage terms on the day, while euro zone blue chips declined 0.1 per cent.

Britain's FTSE 100 hit a new record and was 0.1 per cent higher, while Italian equities declined just 0.2 per cent after the president dissolved parliament on Thursday and an election day was scheduled for March 4.

Overall 2017 has been a positive year for European stocks, fuelled by strong company earnings, a supportive economic backdrop and no major political upsets.

The STOXX is set to end 2017 with a gain of around 8 per cent, its strongest year since 2013. Germany and Italy's benchmarks have been standout performers, rising 13 per cent and 14.7 per cent respectively this year.

Periphery markets have also had a strong year, with Greece's benchmark up more than 24 percent while Portugal has gained 14.5 per cent.

Britain's FTSE 100 has lagged slightly, rising 6.9 percent in 2017, as has Spain's IBEX, which is up 7.8 per cent.

Brexit uncertainty has dented sentiment towards UK equities, while a recovering pound has also put pressure on the blue chips' large proportion of overseas earners.

Among sectors, this year has been dominated by a near-20 percent rise among Europe's tech stocks, closely followed by basic resources. Chipmaker AMS has been the top-gaining firm on the STOXX, surging 206 per cent in 2017.

Telecoms, retail and media have brought up the rear, with year-to-date losses ranging between 2.2 to 3.7 per cent.