(Bloomberg) -- European shares were little-changed after nearing an all-time high on Friday, in a light trading session with the US market closed for a holiday.

The Stoxx 600 Index was 0.2% higher at the close in London, with cyclical technology stocks underperforming while defensive sectors, including healthcare and telecoms, posted gains. Miners were among growth stocks that lagged as iron ore tumbled following a five-day run of gains as China’s markets reopened. US financial markets are closed for the President’s Day holiday.

Among individual moves, AstraZeneca Plc was the top-performing stock after its blockbuster drug Tagrisso slowed disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer, according to trial data. Currys Plc surged after JD.com Inc. and activist investor Elliott Advisors both said they are considering possible cash offers for the UK electronics retailer.

European stocks have been hovering near a record high, but — unlike US peers — have not yet been able to break through. Fourth-quarter earnings misses in the region haven’t been this bad for at least four years, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s tracker.

Banks will be in focus this week with Barclays Plc due to give a long-awaited strategy update. While financials have fared better than most subgroups so far this year, strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. have a negative stance on the sector as positive catalysts including higher bond yields and EPS growth are starting to fade. 

“The long equities trade has worked on both sides of the Atlantic but there will also be worries about how long this can last, given the increasing incongruence between fundamentals and equities,” said Geoffrey Yu, a macro strategist at BNY Mellon in London. “This is particularly the case for Europe where data is clearly underperforming on an absolute and relative basis.” 

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday lowered the country’s 2024 growth forecast to 1% from 1.4%, reinforcing the view that Europe is mired in an extended period of near-stagnation. Data last week showed that the UK slipped into a mild recession in the second half of 2023.

For more on equity markets:

  • Retail Euphoria Is a Warning Sign for Markets: Taking Stock
  • M&A Watch Europe: Currys, Musti, Polymetal, Saudi Dealflow

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