Petroleum shares tumble on lower oil prices


Petroleum-linked companies were in retreat Thursday on lower oil prices while global stocks were mixed following a deluge of earnings reports.

In the US, weakness in oil-linked shares kept gains in the Dow and S&P 500 to a minimum, although the Nasdaq (Frankfurt: 813516 - news) jumped to a fresh record ahead of a trove of earnings reports from Amazon and other leading technology companies coming after the close.

"It's just important we're holding on to the gains we made on Monday and Tuesday when stocks were real strong," said Bill Lynch, director of investment for Hinsdale Associates.

European equities retreated after the European Central Bank held its key interest rates unchanged at historic lows and its massive bond-buying program intact, as expected, at its regular policy meeting.

After notching up gains earlier in the week, investors were currently taking profit, traders said.

"The euro and equity markets have had a strong week so far, thanks mainly to a market-friendly outcome of the French first round presidential election at the weekend," said analyst Fawad Razaqzada. analyst Patrick O'Hare said investors also were digesting outlines of President Donald Trump's tax cut proposal and plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as economic data and earnings.

"Thus far, the stock market seems to be taking it in stride," O'Hare said.

But US oil prices slumped 65 cents to $48.97 a barrel.

Analysts cited the restart of a major Libyan oil field as a drag on petroleum prices, along with data showing increased output in the United States.

Commerzbank (Xetra: CBK100 - news) predicted the market dynamics will become "increasingly tough" for OPEC as US producers ramp in investment, it said in a note.

Petroleum producers BP and Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: 0LN9.L - news) and oil services company Schlumberger (IOB: 0CT7.IL - news) all lost more than one percent.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo stocks fell 0.2 percent after a four-day rally, with dealers unmoved by the Bank of Japan's decision to lower its inflation target and stand pat on its monetary easing program.

But Hong Kong climbed 0.5 percent for a sixth-straight gain, while Sydney added 0.2 percent and Shanghai ended 0.4 percent higher.

- Key figures at 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 20,981.33 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,388.77 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent at 6,048.94 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 7,237.17 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,443.79 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 5,271.70 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,563.29 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 19,251.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 24,698.48 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,152.19 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0878 from $1.0905

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2911 from $1.2849

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.16 yen from 111.00 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 38 cents at $51.44 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 65 cents at $48.97 per barrel