European stocks fell on the last full trading day of the year as a slide in oil prices weighed on investor sentiment.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.5 percent at the close of trading, after yesterday’s 1.4 percent gain. The volume of shares changing hands was 40 percent lower than the 30-day average. Markets will shut on Friday for New Year. Some including Germany, Switzerland and Italy, will also close tomorrow for New Year’s Eve, while others will have shorter trading hours.
European equities are heading for their worst December since 2002, down 4.6 percent. While they recouped some losses in the past two weeks, that hasn’t been enough to overcome a slide earlier this month amid disappointing European Central Bank stimulus measures and as a rout in commodity and crude prices intensified. Still, the Stoxx 600 is heading for its fourth straight annual advance.
All 19 Stoxx 600 groups fell, with energy producers the worst performers. Seadrill Ltd. and Tullow Oil Plc fell at least 5.5 percent, leading losses among energy companies.
Among stocks active on corporate news, Julius Baer Group Ltd. climbed 4 percent after the Swiss wealth manager said it expects to pay about $547 million to settle a U.S. tax investigation.