Europe Markets: European stocks inch lower, but head for 8% 2017 gain

European stocks inched lower in thin trade on Thursday, with few fresh catalysts to send markets higher in the penultimate trading session of the year.

What are markets doing: The Stoxx Europe 600 index SXXP, +0.00%  slipped 0.06 point, or less than 0.1%, to 390.48, after rising 0.1% on Wednesday. The pan-European index is now on track for an 8.1% year-to-date gain, which would be its biggest yearly advance since 2013. The climb, however, pales in comparison to the U.S., where the major benchmarks are looking at gains between 20% and 30% for 2017.

Read: 4 reasons Wall Street banks have the hots for Europe in 2018

Germany’s DAX 30 index DAX, -0.12%  dropped 0.2% to 13,048.53 on Thursday, while France’s CAC 40 index PX1, -0.02%  fell 0.1% to 5,366.42.

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index UKX, +0.13%  gained 0.1% to 7,629.04, setting it on track for an all-time closing high.

The euro EURUSD, +0.3869% rose to $1.1929 from $1.1889 late Wednesday in New York. The euro strength was largely an effect of a broad-based dollar selloff that came after U.S. Treasury yields tumbled on Wednesday.

“With only two trading sessions remaining for 2017, liquidity dried up across the global markets. This has been obvious in U.S. and European equities, where volumes dropped significantly,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.

“However, some investors continued to tweak their portfolios slightly, leading to insignificant price action. I don’t expect equities to deviate much throughout Thursday and Friday,” he added.

U.S. stock futures also traded in tight ranges on Thursday.

Stock movers: Shares of Steinhoff International Holdings NV SNH, +2.31%  rose 4.6%, even as Moody’s downgraded the embattled retailer to Caa1 — near default territory. The company, which owns the Poundland and Mattress Firm retail chains, has plunged 94% year-to-date after an accounting scandal was disclosed earlier this month.

Aegon NV AGN, +1.40%  gained 1.2% after the Dutch insurer said it would sell part of its U.S. life insurance unit to French insurance company Scor SE SCR, +0.06%  .

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