Stocks across Europe on Tuesday fell back from a three-week high, weighed by sliding oil prices and a dreary financial update from mining industry heavyweight BHP Billiton PLC.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended down 1.2% at 327.78, with all sectors finishing with losses. The index on Monday jumped 1.7% to 331.82, the highest close since Feb. 2, fueled by a rally for commodity shares as prices for oil and metals advanced.

But on Tuesday, the basic materials group was among the worst performing. There, BHP Billiton Ltd. BLT, shares dropped 6.1%. The world’s largest mining company by market value slashed its midyear dividend by 74% to 16 cents a share. The move should protect its balance sheet during what may be a “prolonged” period of low commodity prices, said BHP.

Source : Marketwatch