European stocks closed lower Friday on the final trading day of a strong year, as investors remained concerned about the new COVID-19 variant, related restrictions and tighter monetary policy.
Markets closed at lunch time on the New Year's eve, while Germany's DAX and the Swiss Market Index were shut for the holiday.
Stoxx Europe 600 was down 0.2% Friday but up more than 22% in 2021. France's CAC was down 0.3%, but logged a rise of 29% for the year. The DAX and the UK's FTSE 100 index saw annual gains of about 15%.
The FTSE was close to achieving its best annual performance in five years, fueled by gains in commodity-linked and industrial stocks. However, it was pulled down by a 0.7% decline in life insurance stocks as well as slippage of 0.6% for drugmakers AstraZeneca (AZN.L, AZN.ST) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L).
On the corporate front, Hunter Douglas (HDG.AS) soared nearly 70% Friday after controlling shareholder Ralph Sonnenberg agreed to sell a 75% stake in the company to 3G Capital at 175 euros ($198.09) per share, for enterprise value of $7.1 billion. The Sonnenberg family will retain a 25% stake in the Dutch window coverings maker following the deal, pro forma for the new capital structure.