NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. equity prices edged off record highs on Wednesday led by weakness in the financial sector after six global banks were fined a total of $4.3 billion for currency rigging, while the oil market sagged on concerns about a supply glut.
Global regulators fined UBS AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, Bank of America Corp, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan and Citigroup Inc for failing to stop their traders from trying to manipulate the foreign exchange market.
Brent crude oil fell for a third straight session, approaching $81 a barrel for a near four-year low on rising U.S. output and after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister did not make clear whether the kingdom would support a cut in oil production at the OPEC meeting on Nov. 27.
U.S. crude futures shed 1.4 percent to $76.88.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, during a visit to Mexico on Wednesday, said that talk of an oil price war was baseless; he did not say whether the Saudis will support reducing production.
“Holding on to their market position means more than anything else to Saudi Arabia now, and that means holding on to their production,” said John Kilduff, partner at New York hedge fund Again Capital.
The S&P 500 ended off fractionally, losing 1.44 points to 2,038.24.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index lost 1.1 percent, while the STOXX Europe 600 banks index slid 2.1 percent. The Thomson Reuters index of G7 banks lost 0.6 percent.
U.S. Treasuries and German Bunds 10-year yields were little changed at 2.36 percent and 0.81 percent, respectively.
The dollar weakened 0.2 percent against the yen to 115.53 yen on the EBS trading system. The greenback strengthened against the British pound as the Bank of England’s view on weak domestic inflation pushed back expectations on the timing of an interest rate hike into late 2015. Sterling fell 0.9 percent to $1.5785, a 14-month low.
The dollar was steady against the euro, last at $1.2433.
Spot gold prices were down, falling to $1,158.95 an ounce, though the precious metal was off the 4-1/2-year low of $1,131.85 set last Friday.
Tokyo’s Nikkei closed 0.4 percent higher at 17,197.05, highest since October 2007, on expectations Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would postpone a tax hike and may call an election for December.
Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, Lionel Laurent and Anirban Nag in London and Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler