FTSE 100 sinks nearly 3% as oil slide deepens

U.K. stocks were sinking Wednesday in line with the continuing rout in oil drove losses across the board.

The FTSE 100 UKX, -2.71% dropped 2.7% to 5,715.80, with only shares of Randgold Resources Ltd. RRS, +0.45% moving higher with a rise of 0.7%. The selloff put the benchmark down about 19% from its all-time high of 7,103.98, hit in April.

The FTSE 100’s slide tracked falls in Asian markets, where Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed in bear market territory. European stocks SXXP, -3.02% also stumbled.

Oil effect: The multi-region selloff Wednesday came as prices for West Texas Intermediate oil CLG6, -3.76% dropped to a 12-year low and traded below $28 a barrel. That was the February contract, which expires Wednesday; meanwhile, the March contract CLH6, -3.28% was trading above $28 a barrel. Brent crude LCOH6, -2.75% fell 2.5% to $28.04 a barrel.

The International Energy Agency on Tuesday said the oil market is under “enormous strain” from oversupply, which will likely increase as Iranian oil comes back into the market.

Among oil producers, shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDSB, -4.45% RDS.B, -1.28% tumbled 4.3% as the oil major forecast fourth-quarter profit to fall by as much as 50% from the year-earlier period, highlighting the pain that sliding oil prices is inflicting on the industry.

Shell also said it expects to cut 10,000 staff and contract positions as it works to complete its merger with BG Group PLC BG., -2.42% .

BG BG., -2.42% itself Wednesday said it expects to report results that are in line with and ahead of its guidance, despite difficult market conditions. Shares were down 2.6%.

Shares of rival oil producer BP PLC BP., -2.25% BP, -0.82% fell 2.5%.

Movers: Meanwhile, BHP Billiton PLC BLT, -6.17% BHP, -0.59% BHP, -3.53% shares dropped 5.8% as the company pared its projection for global iron-ore production, and as expectations the mining heavyweight is preparing to cut its dividend build.

Economic data: Investors may look for cues in monthly U.K. labor-market data, released by the Office of National Statistics at 9:30 a.m. London time, or 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect the unemployment rate to remain at 5.2%. Earnings over the three-month period to November are forecast to rise 1.8% excluding bonuses, and by 2.1% including bonuses.

The pound GBPUSD, -0.2119% was trading at $1.4143, down from late Tuesday’s level of $1.4179, before the jobs data.

Source: MarketWatch

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