European shares post steepest annual fall in 3 yrs

LONDON - European shares rose on Friday but still recorded their biggest annual drop since the onset of the financial crisis as debt tensions in the euro zone strained the financial sector and threatened to derail a fragile economic recovery.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended the day 0.8 percent higher at 1,000.39 in volume at less than a quarter of the 90-day average as the UK and German markets closed early ahead of the New Year weekend.
Cyclicals gained, led by construction stocks and insurers, as the market extended a year-end rally on the back of a steady flow of upbeat data from the United States recently.
For the year the index fell 10.7, the most since 2008, with cyclical stocks among the worst hit as government austerity measures and a lending squeeze in the euro zone curbed economic growth.
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