Crude slump slams stocks; safe-haven assets shine

Fri Dec 12, 2014 4:46pm EST
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil's relentless slide pounded energy stocks and currencies exposed to crude exports on Friday, doused the appetite for riskier assets and pushed investors into the safety of government debt despite strong U.S. consumer sentiment.

The Dow industrials and major European equity indexes posted their biggest weekly losses in three years, as shares in Europe fell more than 2 percent and stocks on Wall Street, with the exception of Nasdaq, fell nearly as much.

In Europe, the sell-off gathered pace in late trading, and the same occurred just before the end of U.S. trading. Even sectors geared to consumer discretionary and staples succumbed despite a rise in U.S. consumer confidence in December to a near eight-year high.

"This is a bloodbath. After such a negative week, there's not even a rebound into the close. The fact that oil can't find a floor is spooking market players," said Saxo Bank trader Pierre Martin in Paris.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency, which coordinates the energy policies of industrialized nations, cut its demand outlook for 2015, triggering oil's collapse on Friday.

The price of Brent crude plumbed lows last seen in July 2009, with the global oil benchmark slipping below $62 a barrel on concerns over a worldwide supply glut and weak demand.

Brent prices lost nearly 11 percent for the week, pushing their slump from a June peak above $115 to almost 47 percent.

Brent LCOc1 fell $1.83 to settle at $61.85 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 settled down $2.14 to $57.81, its weakest since May 2009.   Continued...

A man looks at electronic boards showing Asian stock indexes, outside a brokerage in Tokyo November 20, 2014.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai