By Emily Horton
Pound strength weighs on FTSE 100
European markets slipped into the red on Friday, weighed by negative headlines in the global auto sector and losses for oil majors.
What did markets do?
Surrendering an earlier lead, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.2% to 348.27 after finishing up 0.3% on Thursday. The index has gained four of the past five trading days, and is poised to end the week with a rise of over 1%.
Dogged by pound strength, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 went from a 0.8% gain to a loss of 0.3%, at 6,925.16. The pound surged to $1.2812 from $1.2749 late Thursday in New York.
The Germany's Dax 30 and France's CAC 40 each lost around 0.6% and Italy's FTSE MIB Italy dropped 0.4%.
The euro climbed to $1.1520 from $1.1500.
What is driving the markets?
Sterling spiked on a report in the Evening Standard that said Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet members saw the likelihood of a Brexit delay rising. The U.K. Parliament is slated to vote on her Brexit deal on Jan. 15, but market participants aren't sure she can shore up enough votes. A stronger pound can weigh on the FTSE 100, as the index's multinational companies generate most of their sales in other currencies.
The auto sector was under pressure after Ford Motor Co. (F) launched an overhaul of its European business on Thursday . It will include thousands of job cuts, plant closures and the cancellation of low-profit models amid poor performance at the global car maker, The Wall Street Journal reports (https://www.wsj.com/articles/ford-announces-major-european-restructuring-11547117814).
In the U.S., President Donald Trump is digging his heels in over the partial government shutdown. White House officials are divided over whether the president should declare a national state of emergency to secure funding for his U.S./ Mexico border wall, the Journal reports (https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-looking-into-diverting-army-corps-funds-to-build-wall-11547161664).
Despite the shutdown, trade talks between China and the U.S. are still progressing, with China's top trade officials expected to visit the U.S. later this month for more negotiations.
What stocks are active?
Among heavily weighted auto stocks, Daimler fell 2% and Volkswagen tumbled over 4%.
Major oil companies dragged on the main Stoxx index as crude prices turned lower . Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LN) fell 0.5% and BP dropped 0.6%.
Health-care stocks logged losses, with UDG Healthcare off 6% and Eurofins Scientific S.E. down by 3%.
U.K. home builders were in the black after upbeat results from with Taylor Wimpey on Thursday. Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon shares rose 5% each.
Cie. Financière Richemont SA (CFR.EB) gained 2% after reporting revenue grew by 25% in the third quarter , which was in line with expectations despite headwinds in some of its markets.