Global benchmark Brent crude oil closed down nearly a dollar a barrel after a day of choppy trading, as strong mid-day rallies in crude fizzled.
On the first trading session of 2015, Asian equities were quiet on the back of a lack of foreign cues and economic data releases.
U.S. stocks closed lower in light volume trade, with the major indices erasing gains for December and the Dow below the benchmark 18,000 level.
Wall Street looked set to kick the new year off on a high, with U.S. stock index futures pointing to an upbeat start to the trading session.
U.S. Treasury bonds held steady on Wednesday after the jobless claims report, with markets set to close early ahead of the New Year holiday.
European shares finished higher on Wednesday on the last trading day of the year, averaging modest gains of around 4 percent across 2014.
On the last trading day of 2014, Asian shares were mixed amid thin volume, with Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines shuttered for the holiday season.
The dollar was set to end 2014 with a gain of more than 12 percent against a basket of major currencies on Wednesday.
U.S. stocks closed down in low volume trade on Tuesday, pressured by weakness abroad and a sharp decline in the utilities sector.
Brent crude briefly dipped below $56 a barrel on Wednesday to a fresh 5-½-year low and was heading for its biggest annual decline since 2008.
Gold headed towards $1,200 an ounce, holding onto overnight gains, as worries about Greece's future in the euro zone triggered a sell-off in equities.
U.S. government debt prices moved higher as investors looked to a perceived safe haven following the Greek parliament's failure to elect a president.
European shares closed lower on Tuesday as lower oil prices and political uncertainty in Greece weighed on investor sentiment.
Fresh anxiety over the turmoil in oil markets and political uncertainty in Greece dragged most Asian indices lower on Tuesday, with Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong hitting new lows. Wall Street's mixed finish overnight did little to lift trading sentiment.
Wall Street looks set to end 2014 on a high, with U.S. stock index futures pointing to a stronger start to Wednesday's trade.
The yen gained sharply against both the dollar and euro on Tuesday as investors sought the traditional safety of the Japanese currency.
Oil futures struggled to remain in positive territory on Tuesday after rebounding from a 5-½-year lows.
Gold rose as sliding oil prices and worries about Greece's future in the euro zone sparked selling of European stocks.
U.S. stocks closed slightly higher, amid fresh lows on oil prices and earlier pressure on European stocks from Greece's failure to elect a president.
U.S. government debt prices moved higher on Monday, as Greek bond yields spiked over 9 percent and stocks plummeted after a snap election.
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