By Riva Gold

Global stocks slipped Thursday as trading slowed ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Overall market activity was muted, with volumes trailing off and currencies and government bonds locked in narrow ranges.

The Stoxx Europe 600 inched down 0.1% midmorning, led lower by the basic resources and technology sectors.

A fall in base metal prices weighed on mining companies, with copper futures down 0.8% at $5,462 a ton, while aluminum and zinc also declined.

Shares of Nokia fell 4.3%, dragging down Europe's tech sector, after Apple and theFinnish telecommunications-equipment maker filed competing lawsuits over intellectual property.

Investors in Europe focused on the fate of Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA. Shares of the lender were up 3% in choppy morning trading--a relative stabilization after falling 12% Wednesday as the bank struggled to sell fresh shares and avert a government bailout.

Monte dei Paschi needs to complete its rescue plan by the end of the year as part of a major cleanup of its balance sheet agreed with the European Central Bank.

Declines in Europe followed small losses in Asia and on Wall Street. U.S. stocks ended a touch lower Wednesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average continued to hover below the 20,000 milestone. Futures pointed to a 12-point opening loss for the blue-chip index Thursday.

Earlier, shares in Asia mostly fell in thin holiday trading, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index down 0.8% and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average off 0.1%, led lower by financial stocks. Australian shares advanced 0.5%.

In currencies, the WSJ Dollar Index was flat after settling at its second-highest level this year. The euro inched up 0.2% against the dollar to $1.0449, while the British pound fell 0.2% to $1.2346.

The 10-year German bund yield was little changed at 0.248%, up from 0.243% Wednesday, while the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yielded 2.543%, down from 2.544% on Wednesday, a recovery of 1.177 percentage points from its July 8 low. Yields move inversely to prices.

"The roller coaster we've witnessed in the interest rates market has been pretty epic--we hit generational lows [in yields] midyear, and just as quickly ... have given back all of those gains and more," Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management, said.

He expects yields to continue to rise next year, given the potential for fiscal stimulus in the U.S. to boost a strengthening economy.

"I don't think we're at that point yet, but if we move north of 3% on the 10 -year [Treasury] note, equity investors are going to stand up and take notice," he added.

Some are concerned that a fast appreciation of rates and tightening of monetary policy by the Federal Reserve could cool the economy and drag down a stock market that has climbed to record highs.

Later Thursday, U.S. weekly jobless claims and a reading on income and spending will be among 2016's final pieces of macroeconomic data.

Giovanni Legorano and Ese Erheriene contributed to this article

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 22, 2016 05:02 ET (10:02 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.