By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stocks fell on the last full
trading day of the year, dragged down by a slide in energy
Political uncertainty from embattled Greece and a drop in
consumer prices in Spain also weighed on sentiment during the last
full trading day of 2014.
The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.9% to 341.02, paring gains for 2014
Energy shares on the index declined Tuesday by a collective
1.8%. Subsea 7 SA , a Norwegian seabed-to-surface engineering
contractor, fell 3.6%, and Norwegian oil-services company Seadrill
Ltd. moved 4.1% lower. Among oil producers, Premier Oil PLC
declined 0.7%, and Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS SA gave up 3%.
Oil prices fell to fresh multi-year lows on Tuesday ahead of the
release of weekly U.S. oil inventory data. Oversupply concerns have
contributed a roughly 50% fall in oil prices since June.
Meanwhile, Greece's Athex Composite pulled back 0.5% to 816.15,
adding to Monday's 3.9% fall that came after Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras's presidential candidate, Stavros Dimas, failed to win
backing from parliament. With a snap national election on deck,
there are worries that a win by the far-left Syriza party will
derail Greece's bailout program and austerity measures.
The Greek snap election will likely take place on Jan. 25,
"meaning we have a good three weeks of uncertainty ahead of us.
Headline risk will be the dominant theme and any changes in poll
numbers are likely to drive price action," wrote Stan Shamu, market
strategist at IG, in a Tuesday note.
Uncertainty is a factor "that the region certainly doesn't need
at the moment and instead of officials solely needing to focus on
ways to stimulate the economy, they now also have to monitor
Greece," he said.
Also read: Five things to know about the snap Greek
The European Central Bank has been grappling with stagnating
growth and stubbornly low levels of inflation in the eurozone. On
Tuesday, Spain's INE statistics agency said its flash estimate of
December growth in consumer prices came in at negative 1.1%,
compared with negative 0.4% in November. The decline stemmed
largely from a fall in prices for gas and diesel oil.
Spain's IBEX 35 index dropped 1% to 10,294.40.
Tuesday was the last full trading day in Germany and Italy ahead
of New Year holidays. The DAX 30 fell 1.2% to 9,805.55, and the
FTSE MIB ended 0.6% lower at 19,011.96.
For the year, the German benchmark rose 2.7%, a small advance
compared with a 25% rise in 2013 and a 29% gain in 2012. The FTSE
MIB rose a meager 0.2% for the year.
In the U.K., the FTSE 100 fell 1.3% at 6,547.00, while France's
CAC 40 closed 1.5% lower at 4,252.97.
Also read: When do markets close on New Year's Eve?
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