European stock markets mostly retreated Wednesday, pushed lower in late deals as oil prices slumped to new five-year lows on renewed signs of slack demand for crude amid ample supplies.
Oil futures slumped after the OPEC cartel revised down its forecast for global crude demand growth next year, while prices were hit additionally by news that commercial crude stockpiles had risen unexpectedly last week in the United States, traders said.
Brent North Sea crude fell under $65 a barrel to reach its lowest level since July 2009.
"As global oil producers continue to nervously eye each other, no one is willing to pull the trigger and cut oil production," said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex trading group.
In stock markets activity, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dropped 0.27 percent to stand at 6,511.77 points nearing the close of trade in the British capital.
The CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.84 percent to 4,227.97 points, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 edged up 0.03 percent to 9,797.09 compared with the closing level on Tuesday, when markets had tumbled.
Weighing down on the French market Wednesday was also the announcement that Airbus will not deliver its first next-generation long-haul, the A350-900, to Qatar Airways.
Shares in the European aerospace group plunged 10.19 percent to 43.285 euros on the news.
US stocks opened lower as petroleum-linked equities suffered more losses on the latest retreat in oil prices, including ExxonMobil, which fell 1.3 percent.
In early deals, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,728.47 points, down 0.41 percent.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.39 percent to 2,051.72 points, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.21 percent to 4,756.57.
The European single currency firmed to $1.2398 from $1.2378 late in New York on Tuesday.
Asian stock markets traded mixed on Wednesday, with fresh fears about Greece's weak economy and further losses in oil prices offset by a strong rebound in Shanghai, a day after suffering its worst loss in five years.
"The dual negatives of Greece and oil continued to pile," said analyst Campbell.
Markets have been jarred this week also by news that Greece had brought forward a presidential election, raising fears of fresh political instability.
Members of the Greek parliament agreed to hold a poll to replace President Karolos Papoulias on December 17 instead of February, when it was due.
The election is a key test for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who will be forced to call snap general elections if his candidate fails to garner enough support.
- BG hit by disposal -
On the corporate front, shares in energy producer BG Group sank 1.91 percent to 881.6 pence in Wednesday deals.
The British company announced the sale of its Australian gas pipeline business for $5.0 billion (4.0 billion euros) as part of a plan to shed non-core assets.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the euro increased to 79.01 British pence from 78.97 late on Tuesday in New York. The British pound firmed to $1.5690 from $1.5665.
On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold rose to $1,228.25 an ounce from $1,227 late on Tuesday.