LONDON – European indexes fell on Friday in the last trading session of 2021.

The U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3% in morning deals, Germany’s DAX was up by 0.2% and France’s CAC slipped 0.4%. Markets will close at lunchtime on Friday owing to New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Swiss SMI and Italy’s FTSE MIB will be shut all day.

Global investors have been looking for a Santa Claus rally to close out a year of solid returns. The FTSE and the DAX are on track to see gains of 15% for this year, while the French CAC is close to a 30% gain.

Historically, many benchmarks gain during the Santa Claus rally — the final five trading days of the current year and the first two of the new year. The period began Monday.

On Wall Street, stock futures were mildly lower on Thursday night ahead of the final trading day of 2021. In Asia, Hong Kong stocks led gains among major markets on Friday, with Chinese tech stocks in the city soaring.

Market players have spent recent weeks juggling concerns over new Covid restrictions and tighter central bank policy, with early studies suggesting the omicron strain of the virus is milder than previous variants like delta. New studies in South Africa and the U.K. last week suggested omicron carries a reduced risk of hospitalization and severe illness.

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