Oil price decline weighs on markets ahead of US tax vote

By The Associated PressEnergyAssociated Press

Global share prices fell sharply Wednesday as sinking oil prices weighed on oil producers and other energy stocks. Investors are also monitoring developments surrounding President Donald Trump's attempt to get sweeping legislation to revamp the U.S. tax system through Congress.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 1 percent to 12,903 while the CAC 40 in France fell 0.6 percent to 5,285. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.5 percent lower at 7,375. U.S. stocks were poised for a lower opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.5 percent.

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OIL SLIDE: A report from the International Energy Agency pointing to strong production growth in the years ahead, particularly in the U.S., has weighed on oil prices and that's had a knock-on effect on energy stocks, such as BP, which was down 1.3 percent and Total, which was trading 1.2 percent lower. In early afternoon London trading, a barrel of Brent crude was down another 58 cents at $55.12 a barrel while the New York benchmark fell 66 cents to $61.55 a barrel.

US TAX UNEASE: Traders were also a tad nervous about the upcoming vote in Congress on President Donald Trump's tax-cutting package, which would be his first major legislative achievement after nearly 10 months in office.

ANALYST TAKE: "The deterioration in global stocks clearly has a footing in last week's Senate announcement that we may not see a U.S. corporate tax cut until 2019," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG. "However, the worst may not be over yet. With Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell hoping to add a repeal of the 'individual mandate' into the bill as a way to undermine Obamacare, the pathway to tax reform just got more complicated."

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index tumbled 1.6 percent to 22,028.32, as manufacturers' shares were stung by a stronger yen. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.0 percent to 28,851.69 and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.8 percent to 3,402.52. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,934.20 and the Kospi of South Korea declined 0.3 percent to 2,518.25.

CURRENCIES: The euro was 0.4 percent higher at $1.1840 while the dollar fell 0.7 percent to 112.68 yen.