Stocks in Europe have opened slightly lower on Friday. A reported profit drop at French media giant Vivendi coupled with its ongoing spat with Mediaset helped European benchmarks continue the week-long slow drift downwards.

Healthcare stocks were the biggest drag on the FTSE 100 for the second-day running, with Shire falling over 1%. The Healthcare SPDR ETF (XLV) was the biggest decliner among S&P 500 sector-tracker funds on Thursday. Investors are pulling funds from what now seems to be one of the most politically-sensitive industries in the run up to the US presidential election. 

The Friday before the August bank holiday Monday has replaced suited commuters with sandal-wearing holidaymakers. The mass exodus from the City of London was felt in a very quiet opening for financial markets.

The British pound saw a brief spike following data confirming UK GDP rose 0.6% q/q (2.2% y/y) with a 0.5% rise in business investment. Sterling had seen a slight uplift beforehand from survey data showing consumer confidence rebounded from post-Brexit jitters according to YouGov/CEBR.

A preliminary estimate of French GDP confirming second quarter stagnation (0% growth q/q), unchanged from the flash estimate had minimal impact on the euro or European indices.

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Stocks in the US look set for a higher open ahead of the hotly-anticipated speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the Jackson Hole symposium (at 3pm BST).

USA pre-opening levels

S&P 500: 3 points higher at 2,175

Dow Jones: 23 points higher at 18,471

Nasdaq 100: 6 points higher at 4,781


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