A rebound in crude prices failed to offer relief to energy stocks on Thursday, as Europe’s equities indices were muted in thin volume ahead of the early end of the last trading day of 2016.
Oil’s steep slide has overshadowed markets, stoking concern not just about its immediate implications for stocks in the sector, but also on the outlook for inflation in developed markets. Brent crude, the international marker, rose 0.7 per cent to $36.73, with Nymex West Texas Intermediate up 0.4 per cent at $36.7.
But oil majors found little cheer, with Brent’s tumble over 2015 at more than 37 per cent. Shares in Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.8 per cent on Thursday. BP was down 0.3 per cent, as was France’s Total.
The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.2 per cent, to take its decline for the calendar year to 4.7 per cent. The CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.4 per cent, trimming its wider gain for 2016 to 9.4 per cent. Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax 30 remained closed for the new year’s eve public holiday, leaving it up 9.6 per cent since January.
The Europe-wide Euro Stoxx 600 was down 0.2 per cent.
On currencies markets, the dollar was holding its ground, with the euro down 0.1 per cent at $1.0922 and the pound up 0.1 per cent to $1.4826.
The tone of the final session of the year was steady in Asia, where China’s main indices were mixed.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.9 per cent, trimming its gain for 2015 to 9.4 per cent after a year of volatility marked by a sharp slide in August and then a steady recovery from lows. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ticked up 0.2 per cent, leaving it down 7 per cent since January.
The rouble continued to fall on deepening concern about the consequences of low oil prices on Russia’s oil-dependent economy. The currency weakened by a further 0.7 per cent on Thursday, with Rbs73.7445 required to buy a single dollar, its weakest level on record apart from a brief rout last December that threatened a run on the Russian banking system.