Equities pulled lower by oil, China concerns

Mon Dec 28, 2015 4:16pm EST
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equities were lower on Monday, pressured by another downdraft in oil prices and worries over growth in China's economy, while the holiday season kept trading volumes muted.

Prices of both Brent and U.S. crude dropped more than 3 percent LCOc1 CLc1, reversing a brief rebound and dragging U.S. energy shares .SPNY down 1.8 percent as the worst performing of the major S&P sectors.

Crude again moved within sight of an 11-year low. Brent settled at $36.62 and U.S. crude settled at $36.81 as last week's short-covering dried up and players worried that prices had more room to swoon.

"You have energy and tax-loss harvesting moving markets back and forth in these last few weeks,” said Tim Courtney, Chief Investment Officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors, which oversees $1.4 billion in assets.

In contrast to oil, U.S. natural gas prices NGc1 settled up 10 percent at $2.228 per million British thermal units as forecasts for colder temperatures led to bets that long-delayed winter weather was finally arriving.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 23.9 points, or 0.14 percent, to 17,528.27, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.45 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,056.54 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 7.51 points, or 0.15 percent, to 5,040.99.

A weak batch of industrial profits raised concerns about China's economy and sent Chinese stocks lower by almost 3 percent, their biggest drop in a month.

Profits at Chinese industrial companies in November fell 1.4 percent from a year earlier, the sixth consecutive month of decline and another sign that the world's chief engine of growth for the past decade is sputtering.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 28, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson