Global shares hit by Greece, Ukraine uncertainty; oil drops

Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:13pm EST
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An advance in U.S. stocks halted and European shares slipped on Wednesday on investor worries over the outcome of euro zone ministerial meetings about Greece's debt crisis, while oil prices dropped for a second day on more signs of oversupply.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and euro zone finance ministers continued negotiations after the country's new leftist-led government warned it will end cooperation with organizations overseeing the country's bailout program.

European Union leaders were due to meet on the same matter on Thursday. The unease over Greece pulled European stocks lower, with Greek shares slumping 4 percent .ATG.

"Europeans, regardless of the outcome of the negotiation, are looking at some rather troubling developments," said John Brynjolfsson, chief investment officer of hedge fund Armored Wolf in Irvine, California. "There's a possibility that the parties can't come to terms and you have a Grexit," referring to a Greek exit from the euro zone.

Adding to the markets' uncertainty, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine began peace talks in Belarus, while in Ukraine, pro-Moscow separatists tightened pressure on Kiev by launching some of the war's worst assaults.

Oil prices fell as much as 3 percent, with Brent crude hitting a session low of $53.91 a barrel, after government data showed U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles rose almost five million barrels last week to nearly 418 million barrels, the highest since records began in 1982.

The data stoked concerns of oversupply. The latest two-day fall in oil came after prices, down about 50 percent since June, had rallied more than 20 percent in the last four weeks.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down $1.77 at $54.66 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled off $1.18 at $48.84. [O/R]   Continued...

Specialist trader Michael Gaglilano (L) gives a price for stocks to traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 2, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid