Europe ends lower on volatile oil; BP shares sink

European stocks extend losses at close
European stocks extend losses at close   

European markets tumbled to close sharply lower on Tuesday, as concerns over oil prices haunted traders and investors worldwide.

The pan-European STOXX 600 finished more than 2 percent lower, with all sectors closing in negative territory.

London's FTSE 100 finished down 2.3 percent, with France's CAC off 2.5 percent. Germany's DAX finished 1.8 percent lower.

Markets in Asia closed mostly lower and U.S. stocks followed the downward trend on Tuesday.

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FTSE
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IBEX 35
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Concerns surrounding a glut in global oil supply continued to fester. When European markets closed, Brent crude futures for April were trading at around $33.10, with U.S. WTI crude futures for March at around $30.40.

Oil and gas stocks took a hit, with Tullow Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total all closing off 4 percent or more.

This came after Standard & Poor's cuts its rating on Shell and placed it on a negative watch.

The ratings agency also slashed its rating of BHP Billiton and put it on negative watch and placed Rio Tinto on negative watch as well, due to the poor outlook for commodities.

Shares of both companies ended sharply down on Tuesday.

In general, mining stocks performed poorly on Tuesday due to the decline in oil prices, with Anglo American finishing almost 8 percent down.

BP worst loss in 20 years

On the earnings front, oil major BP reported an annual loss of $6.5 billion in 2015, its worst in 20 years amid the persistently low oil price, sending shares to close down 8.7 percent.

In the financial space, Swiss bank UBS reported 2015 net profit up 79 percent, beating analyst forecasts, but warned that volatile markets, low interest rates and a strong Swiss franc would continue to present headwinds, sending shares to close 6.8 percent lower.

Danske Bank finished up 4 percent after posting fourth-quarter earnings that beat estimates. It said it was planning to launch a 9 billion crows ($1.3 billion) share buyback program.

Austria's Raiffeisen Bank announced a preliminary 2015 consolidated profit of 383 million euros, sending shares to close nearly 5 percent higher.

Shares of Ferrari slipped in late trade by 9.6 percent, after the Italian luxury carmaker issued a cautious 2016 forecast on its financial performance for 2016.

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's said it had agreed to buy Home Retail, the owner of Argos, in a £1.3 billion ($1.87 billion) deal. Sainsbury's shares closed up over 2 percent.

Elsewhere, BT was scrutinized in late trade, after reports emerged that the company's broadband and phone network had been suffering problems across the U.K. BT said it was working hard to fix the issue and that there were no signs of a malicious attack. Its shares closed higher.

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