European stocks were little changed Friday in thin volumes as investors remain cautions in advance of the inauguration speech from President-elect Donald Trump and increasing questions over the Brexit ambitions of the U.K. government.
The Stoxx 600 Europe Index, the broadest measure of regional share performance, slipped 0.28% to 361.85 points by 08:45 GMT, but there was no clear trading theme outside of a larger global equity market caution. Britain's FTSE 100 added just a couple of points in the opening 45 minutes of trading, while Germany's DAX index was marked about 10 points higher. Bank shares gained in Europe, however, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index rising 0.32% led by gains in Germany for Deutsche Bank (DB - Get Report) and Commerzbank (CRZBY) .
Heineken NV (HEINY) shares were an early mover of note after the brewer confirmed it's in talks to buy Brazil's second-largest brewer from Japan's Kirin Holdings Company Ltd.
Heineken shares edged 0.3% to €70.81 in early trading in Amsterdam but have lost around 4.75% over the past three months. Stock in the Japanese brewer closed up 1.28% in Toyko at ¥1,895.
While there are no significant corporate earnings scheduled, the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics will publish December retail sales figures at 09:30 GMT that will provide a key glimpse into the state of consumer confidence in Europe's third-largest economy.
Overnight in Asia, stocks were mixed despite better-than-expected economic data from China and a weaker U.S. dollar, which pared Thursday's gains following a speech in California from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Japan's Nikkei 225 edged 0.34% higher, but will end the week's trading down 0.8%. South Korea's KOSPI slipped -0.3% to 2,065.61 while Australia's S&P/ASX fell -0.7% to 5,654.8 points. The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was marked -0.15% lower.
China GDP was pegged at a faster-than-expected 6.8% in the three months ending in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday, taking full-year growth to 6.7%, which was largely in-line with analysts' expectations.
The dollar remained the focal point of Asia trading, however, with the greenback trading at 100.83 against a basket of six global currencies, down from the 101.73 level it hit Thursday in New York after solid jobs and housing data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell for its fifth straight session on Thursday, further distancing itself from recent records, in the countdown to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The Dow fell 0.37% and is now more than 200 points away from 20,000, a level it has never reached and one it appeared certain to hit just weeks ago. The S&P 500 was down 0.33%, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.23%. Stock losses escalated in the final hours of the session.
U.S. futures prices suggest the Dow will edge higher, rising 14 points at the opening bell on Wall Street while the S&P 500 is expected to gain 6 points and the Nasdaq 17.5 points.