Energy Sector Leads European Shares Higher

By Kenan Machado and Riva GoldFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Oil retreats from 2 1/2 -year high

-- China stocks move lower

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-- World's biggest shipbuilder has worst day on record

Energy and mining companies were the best performers in global stock markets Wednesday after oil and copper prices climbed to multiyear highs this week, while the technology sector continued to lag behind.

Europe's oil-and-gas and basic resources sectors were up 0.6% and 0.9% respectively as regional markets reopened from a holiday, echoing gains in their Asian and U.S. counterparts.

U.S. crude futures briefly popped above $60 a barrel Tuesday after a pipeline explosion in Libya--ending the day up 2.6% at the highest settlement since June 2015--before edging down 0.6% to $59.63 a barrel on Wednesday. The incident is expected to reduce oil production there by up to 100,000 barrels a day, the country's National Oil Co. said on its website.

Every company in the Stoxx Europe 600's oil and gas sector traded higher Wednesday as trading resumed following a holiday, with shares of Tullow Oil up 3.8% and Italian oil-and-gas contractor Saipem up 3.3% after it said late Friday it had signed several contracts for onshore and offshore projects.

The basic resources sector also rose 0.9%, drawing support from a climb in copper prices. London-listed copper futures were last up 0.8% at $7,189 a ton, around their highest in nearly four years. The metal, which is heavily used in construction and manufacturing, has benefited from improving economic growth in the U.S. and indications of stronger demand from China.

Wider market moves and volumes were muted in the quiet period between the Christmas and New Year holidays. Futures pointed to a flat open for the S&P 500, while the Stoxx Europe 600 swung between small gains and losses in morning trading and was last down 0.1%.

Europe's technology sector fell 0.9% after a decline in shares of Apple and some of its suppliers dragged down U.S. indexes Tuesday. Analysts attributed the fall to reports that the company is considering cutting its first-quarter sales forecast for its iPhone X.

Tech has been the world's best-performing sector this year, so it isn't surprising that there has been a year-end pullback, said Felix Lam, a portfolio manager at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

In Asian trading, Chinese stocks sold off in the afternoon amid broad declines in many of the blue-chip companies that have done well this year. Smartphone-related companies fell to begin the week, on the reports of iPhone X's potential sales weakness.

While the smartphone supply chain will be under pressure in the seasonally weak first quarter, President Securities said it doesn't see fundamentals deteriorating.

The Shanghai Composite was down 0.9% with insurers faring worst, and the CSI 300--made up of the biggest stocks in both Shanghai and Shenzhen--slid 1.5%. Data showed China's industrial-profit growth slowed sharply in November, due to slower growth in prices for industrial goods and higher production costs.

Declines for some tech firms helped offset a rebound in Chinese property developers in Hong Kong, which left the benchmark Hang Seng Index up 0.1%.

South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.4% as some major tech stocks including Samsung Electronics rebounded and shares of pharmaceutical companies rose. That helped offset a 28% drop for Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Hyundai Heavy, the world's biggest shipbuilder, had its worst day ever after releasing guidance through 2018, announcing a 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion) stock-sale plan and saying it would sell part of its refining operation.

Energy companies broadly advanced across Asian bourses, benefiting from the recent gains in crude oil prices.

In currencies, the euro was last up 0.3% at $1.1889, having fully recovered after a sudden drop on Christmas day during Japanese trading briefly sent it down around 3%. Analysts attributed the move to stressed dollar liquidity amid light holiday volumes.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 others, was down 0.1%.

Yifan Xie and Marc Navarro Gonzalez contributed to this article.

Write to Kenan Machado at and Riva Gold at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 27, 2017 05:44 ET (10:44 GMT)