Europe ends under pressure; commodities, oil prices eyed

European markets ended mixed to slightly lower on Wednesday as investors tried to digest what was happening with oil prices, commodity stocks and currency markets.


The pan-European STOXX 600 ended down 0.4 percent provisionally after a choppy for markets. London's FTSE closed down 0.1 percent, while France's CAC and Germany's DAX slipped further, down around 0.9 and 0.8 percent respectively.

In the U.S., trade was mixed, as investors too kept an eyed on oil prices and currency moves, while Asian equities ended lower as investors digested economic data from after major markets such as Japan and China.

Oil prices shake up markets

Oil prices came under pressure in late trade, despite being as much as 3 percent higher in afternoon trading. Oil prices were boosted by strong Japanese economic data and an announcement from the EIA saying U.S. crude inventories fell by 3.6 million barrels eased sentiment. Brent last stood around $40.43, while WTI Crude was slightly higher at $37.72 a barrel, as supply glut concerns capped gains.

The oil and gas sector jumped on the back of this, with major names such as Tullow Oil, Seadrill and Statoil all posting solid gains above 2.5 percent. Finland's Neste was one of the sector's only stocks in the red, down almost 2 percent after the oil refiner warned that a technical issue at its Porvoo refinery would result in a production loss of tens of millions of euros.

Miners eyed: Rio Tinto jumps, Anglo wavers

The basic resources sector was front and center of investors' minds after heavy news-flow from several companies. Stocks in the sector fluctuated throughout the trading day, especially on the back of the oil price moves.

Anglo American's stock pared sharp losses, ending down 1.2 percent, following the announcement of a massive restructuring plan that is set to see 85,000 jobs cut over the next few years. Fresnillo also ended in the red after a pipeline burst at its Saucito mine, spilling about 450 tons of tailings.

Rio Tinto shot up to close almost 4 percent higher, after it said on Tuesday that it plans to boost aluminium production next year by about 10 percent due to productivity improvements. Deutsche Bank also raised its price target for the stock. Other stocks finished sharply up too, including BHP Billiton and Glencore, up 3.7 and 4.6 percent respectively.

European stocks were also pressured by a stronger euro, which gained steadily against the dollar throughout the session.

VW rallies on emissions news

Top performer on the STOXX 600 was Britain's Ashtead Group which raised its full-year profit forecasts. Shares closed up 8.6 percent higher.

Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen said on Wednesday that it had found discrepancies in carbon dioxide levels in far fewer cars than it anticipated and no longer expects a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) hit to earnings. The news sent VW shares to finish up over 6 percent up.

In other news, British rail and bus operator Stagecoach slumped over 14 percent after it "modestly" cut its full-year earnings forecast and said revenue had been affected by the Paris terrorist attacks.