European shares subdued, retailers in focus as holiday shopping kicks off

European stocks were subdued on Friday, with retail companies under pressure as the holiday shopping season kicked off amid worries of a sharply slowing global economy and sky-high inflation.

The pan-European STOXX 600 slipped 0.1 percent by 0811 GMT but held below three-month highs hit earlier this week.

Europe’s retail index fell 0.6 percent on Black Friday, which kicks off the holiday shopping season, though taking place against a backdrop of a worsening cost-of-living crisis and the distraction of the soccer World Cup this year.

The index is among the worst-performing sectors in Europe, with a 32-percent drop year-to-date.

However, the benchmark STOXX 600 was also set for its sixth consecutive week of gains following signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve could temper its pace of rate hikes.

Investors on Thursday largely looked past the minutes of the European Central Bank’s October meeting that showed policymakers feared inflation may be getting entrenched so rates would need to rise further.

Meanwhile, data on Friday showed the German economy grew slightly more in the third quarter than preliminary figures suggested, bolstered by consumer spending.

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