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European stocks end lower; oil, metals eyed

European markets closed lower on Friday as the sharp rally from the day before lost steam and investors remained cautious on the price of oil.

Stocks up on the week

Symbol
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Price
 
Change
%Change
Volume
FTSE
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DAX
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CAC
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IBEX 35
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The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down, with almost all sectors in the red. London's benchmark FTSE 100 ended unofficially down 0.8 percent, while France's CAC and Germany's DAX both closed more than 1 percent lower.

Stocks ended largely higher on the week however, with the STOXX 600 up 1.5 percent. The FTSE 100 and the CAC 40 were both 1.7 percent higher on the week.

Miners outperform

Symbol
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Gold / US Dollar Spot
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SILV/USD
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PALL/USD
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PLAT/USD
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Mining firms, which feature heavily in the FTSE 100, outperformed as metal prices gained on the back of a weaker dollar. This helped prevent the U.K. index from dropping as low as its continental counterparts.

Copper led the way, gaining more than 3 percent to trade at $2.11 per pound. Anglo American jumped to the top of benchmark, closing 5.5 percent higher. This was despite a target price cut from Goldman Sachs.

The investment bank also cut Glencore and Rio Tinto, while Moody's Investors Service also downgraded Glencore's ratings to Baa3, one level above junk status.

The ratings agency also placed BHP Billiton on review for a downgrade, saying that weak commodity prices would persist for several years, reducing the company's earnings and cash-flow generation.

BHP Biliton and Rio Tinto both closed higher on Friday, up 2.5 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

Oil in focus

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Oil prices tumbled in morning trade before recovering in the afternoon. Individual oil stocks failed to recover as sharply, with Seadrill ending the trading session 4.5 percent lower and SBM Offshore 2.9 percent down.

At the opposite end of benchmarks was London-listed Carnival, which jumped in late trade after reporting a 40 percent increase in full-year earnings. Its stock closed up around 2.6 percent.

U.S. stocks traded lower on Friday as investors eyed oil prices and options expiration. Friday was the final "witching" day of the year in the U.S. The third Friday of every March, June, September, and December is quadruple "witching," the expiration of three related classes of options and futures contracts, along with individual stock futures options. The day is associated with increased stock market volatility.

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