Europe ends under pressure on oil slide; Fingerprint triumphs

European markets close: Amazon's UK competition
European markets close: Amazon's UK competition   

European equities finished trade lower on Wednesday as investors fretted over renewed weakness in global commodity markets.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped to close down 0.4 percent, with almost all sectors closing in negative territory.

The U.K. benchmark FTSE 100 close provisionally 0.6 percent lower, with the German DAX unofficially down 1.1 percent and the French CAC down 0.3 percent.


The price of oil was the main focus for markets on Wednesday. After a brief reprieve on Tuesday, both U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and benchmark Brent futures traded well below $37 per barrel on Wednesday. Crude prices were pressure lower after official data showed U.S. crude stockpiles had unexpectedly risen in the last week, by 2.6 million barrels.

The downward momentum in oil markets hit European energy stocks. Weak performers included Seadrill and Tullow Oil, which both closed down around 5.5 percent.

Meanwhile, a handful of miners rebounded on Wednesday after slipping on Tuesday. Antofagasta ended up 2.5 percent, although BHP Billiton and Glencore closed sharply lower.

Ocado slips on Amazon fears

British online retailer, Ocado came off session lows, but still closed down more than 3 percent, due to escalating concerns of growing competition from Amazon. This dragged U.K. supermarkets lower, including WM Morrison and Sainsbury.

Insurers remained in focus on London's FTSE index, as a result of the flooding in northern England. Accountants estimate insurers could pay out well over £1 billion ($1.5 billion) and damages could rise as the storm looks set to continue. Weak-performing stocks included Prudential and Standard Life.

Julius Baer jumps, Fingerprint soars

Swedish Biometic tech maker, Fingerprint Cards, was Europe's top-gaining stock of the day, up 13 percent. According to Bloomberg, the stock has surged more than 1,460 percent in 2015, making it Europe's best-performing stock of the year.

Shares of Swiss bank, Julius Baer, regained earlier highs, finishing up 4 percent. The bank said it had set aside nearly $200 million in additional provisions to settle a U.S. criminal investigation that it had helped wealthy American clients dodge taxes, according to Reuters.

Some of the worst performers across Europe on Wednesday were luxury brands, with Burberry, Hugo Boss and Luxottica all posting losses of over 1 percent. Autos also faced a tough session, with Porsche and Volkswagen both off by more than 1 percent.

In Asia, trading ended trade mixed, with Hong Kong and South Korea's markets falling into the red. This downward pattern followed overseas in the U.S., where stocks traded mostly lower as investors kept an eye on oil and other key data.

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