European markets finished firmly in the red on Friday as the renewed decline in oil prices and mixed performance in markets overseas weighed on investor sentiment.
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.8 percent lower provisionally, with all sectors closing in negative territory. On the week however, the STOXX 600 jumped 4.5 percent.
Europe’s main bourses all under-performed, with London’s FTSE 100slipping 0.4 percent while France’s CAC finished 0.4 percent lower.Germany’s DAX fell 0.8 percent down, while Athen’s stock exchange was the worst-performing index, off 3.5 percent.
In global markets, Asia came under pressure finishing mixed on Friday, while U.S. markets traded mostly lower as oil continued to capped gains.
Oil prices fell on Friday after supply glut concerns grew, following recent data out from the Energy Information Administration, which showed U.S. crude inventories had risen by 2.1 million barrels last week. These concerns overshadowed earlier gains in the week, which were triggered by hopes of producers freezing output levels.
Brent was off some 3.5 percent, trading around $33.15, while U.S. crudeslumped 4.5 percent to $29.54. This put oil and gas stocks under pressure, with Seadrill off 9.7 percent. Sbm Offshore, Tullow Oil andStatoil all closed more than 2 percent down.
Earnings in focus
On the earnings front, German insurer Allianz said operating profit for 2015 rose 3.2 percent, near the upper end of its target range for the year, but still missing analyst expectations, sending shares over 1 percent lower.
Luxury firm Kering said its 2015 revenue rose 15.4 percent helped by a weaker euro and good performance from Gucci, which it owns. Shares in the firm initially reacted positively, before closing 0.6 percent down.
Dutch-based firm, Aegon slumped over 4 percent after the insurer’s fourth-quarter earnings fell below analyst expectations.
Vivendi jumping into games; Emissions scandal hits autos
In other corporate news, shares in Gameloft, a video games firm, were up over 16.5 percent after French media group Vivendi said it was launching a hostile takeover of the firm. The news also sent shares in game maker Ubisoft over 4.5 percent higher.
Italian broadcaster Mediaset finished 3.4 percent up after local newspapers reported that Vivendi had been considering a takeover of its pay-TV unit.
Meanwhile, an owner of a Mercedes BlueTEC diesel car filed a class-action lawsuit on Thursday against Daimler which claims of excessive nitrogen oxide emissions levels. The German carmaker called the lawsuit unfounded and said it would defend itself against it. Shares in the German carmaker closed over 2 percent lower.
And the fallout over emissions continues for other carmakers too.Volkswagen and Audi offices in South Korea were raided by local prosecutors as part of a probe into the emissions case. Shares in Volkswagen finished off over 3 percent.
But there was positive news for one of Europe’s worst performing sectors on Friday. Valeo saw shares jump 4.5 percent after posting a 30 percent rise in full-year net profit.