European stocks were lower on Thursday on a shortened trading session ahead of the New Year holiday. Volumes are expected to be light going into the final session of 2015. Markets in Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and Ireland were closed for the day. The IBEX in Spain is set to close the day early.
Investors remained focused on oil as concerns continue to grow over an increasing global supply glut. The U.S. EIA (Energy Information Administration) added to worries after its latest report showed an unexpected increase in crude oil supplies in the United States.
Crude oil futures for February were slightly up, at $36.72 during early trade hours in Europe. Oil is still hovering near an 11-year low as the year comes to a close.
Stocks in the financial sector were broadly lower, with Banco Santander (MC: SAN) losing 0.16% and BBVA (MC: BBVA) shedding 0.74%.
The FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.23%. The market is set to close early on Thursday for New Year’s Eve.
Financial stocks in the U.K. also saw losses. Barclays (L: BARC) fell 0.60%, HSBC Holdings (L: HSBA) slipped 0.37% and Lloyds Banking (L: LLOY) plummeted 1.01%.
The Royal Bank of Scotland saw gains of 0.13%. Vodafone (L: VOD) jumped 1.20% amid reports that the company will merge with Liberty Global (O: LBTYA).