Europe Markets: European stocks struggle for gains on weak oil, Brexit-deal doubts

European markets struggled to maintain footing in positive territory Friday, as a lackluster round of data underscored sagging economic expansion in the eurozone and has investors watched the latest in closely watched political developments ied to

Spain threatened to halt Brexit progress over Gibraltar’s status and oil prices plunged anew.

Volumes may be thinner with U.S. markets returning from the Thanksgiving Day holiday to a shortened session.

How are the markets performing?

The Stoxx Europe 600

SXXP, +0.06%

 was up 0.2% to 353.13 after closing down 0.7% on Thursday.

The German DAX

DAX, -0.96%

 was up 0.2% to 11,160, while the French CAC 40 index

PX1, -0.07%

 inched up 0.1% to 4,944.01. The FTSE 100

UKX, -0.36%

 slipped 0.1% to 6,952.88.

The pound

GBPUSD, -0.3883%

  fell to $1.2830, after closing at $1.2878 in New York late on Thursday. The pound climbed after an U.K., E.U. agreement on the outlines of future ties between the two was reached on Thursday. The euro

EURUSD, -0.4998%

  fell to $1.1352, versus $1.1404 on Thursday.

What is driving markets?

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European investors contended contending with weak data and continued political developments in the region. November PMIs for the eurozone fell short of forecasts, with the composite index coming in at 52.4, versus 53 expected. A reading of at least 50 indicates improving conditions.

Lackluster data weighed on the euro and was a blow to any investors looking for a eurozone rebound in the fourth quarter, market participants said, coming after German gross domestic product data confirmed a pullback in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, sterling was paring a sizable gain against its major rivals after Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Thursday that she had agreed a draft political declaration outlining aspirations for the U.K’s relationship with the E.U. She still has to push the deal through parliament.

The draft political declaration is due for final sign off at the summit, and is an additional supplement to the 585-page Withdrawal Agreement published last week.

However, lingering is a sticky issue with Spain over Gibraltar.

Separately, declines in other markets, and oil prices again plunging, also weighed on market sentiment.

What is driving markets?

Oil majors led the losses as crude plunged, with Royal Dutch Shell PLC

RDS.A, -4.28%

RDSA, -3.13%

 dropping over 2% and BP PLC

BP, -3.68%

BP., -2.08%

 sliding 1.4%. Repsol SA

REP, -2.00%

 fell over 1%.

Banks provided some support, with heavily-weighted bank HSBC holdings PLC

HSBC, -0.14%

   regaining some lost ground, up by 0.6%, after losses during the week.

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