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European stocks called lower in holiday-thinned trading

European stocks are set to open lower Thursday in the final full trading day of the year amid a modest pullback in global equities and a softer U.S. dollar.

Britain’s FTSE 100 is forecast to fall around 0.26% at the start of trading, according to prices from financial bookmakers IG, with marginally lighter declines predicted for benchmarks in Germany and France. Italy’s FTSE MIB index is expected to open little-changed at 19,204, but volatility in it banking sector, particularly related to the failing lender Banca Monte dei Paschi di Sienna (BMDPY) , will likely provide another day of large swings in share prices.

Another stock to keep an eye on at the open will be Actelion (ALIOY) after the Swiss biotech said Wednesday that it has re-entered talks with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) that could lead to a “strategic transaction.”

The statement came just a week after the two groups ended talks that could have led to a $27 billion (£21.84 billion) takeover of the Allschwil, Switzerland-based firm and ignited speculation of a counter bid from France’s Sanofi (SNY).

Actelion shares closed 6.44% higher in Zurich Wednesday, changing hands at Sfr214.79 each and 2% below the record high it touched last week as the Sanofi speculation intensified.

Stock markets were mixed overnight in Asia, with the Nikkei 225 recording a modest 0.3% decline from the 2016 high posted in yesterday’s trading. Volumes were thin, however, on the Japanese benchmark and sentiment failed to carry over into other regional markets, as Australia’s S&P/ASX index added 0.5% to Wednesday’s 18-month high to close at 5,643.9 points.

Paul

The author Paul