Oil slumps anew, global equity markets fall

Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:27pm EST
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By David Gaffen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets fell on Wednesday as oil prices slumped toward 11-year lows, sapping investors' appetite for risky assets on the penultimate trading day of 2015.

Stock markets rallied the previous day as oil prices rebounded on prospects for lower temperatures on both sides of the Atlantic. But on Wednesday benchmark Brent crude slid below $37 a barrel, with investors worried about slowing demand and high supplies.

Slumping oil prices have been a major driver of financial markets this year, hammering energy companies, lowering inflation expectations and reinforcing bets on loose monetary policy in Europe and a slow tightening in the United States.

Wall Street closed lower, led by declines in energy shares. Apple Inc, the most valuable public U.S. company, exerted the biggest drag on the Standard & Poor's 500 index, ending the day 1.3 percent lower, in what would be the stock's first down year since 2008.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.66 percent to 17,603.87, the S&P 500 lost 0.72 percent at 2,063.36 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.8 percent to 5,065.85. With one day remaining in 2015, the S&P is up just 0.2 percent on the year.

The MSCI All World Index dipped 0.6 percent.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.5 percent, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index declined by 0.8 percent. Both gained in the previous session.

Crude prices have plunged by two-thirds since mid-2014 as soaring output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and the United States led to a global surplus of half a million to 2 million barrels per day.   Continued...

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