By Riva Gold
Stocks rowed back from recent gains Monday while oil prices zigzagged ahead of a critical meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.5%, with the oil and gas sector among the steepest decliners after gaining around 4.5% over the past two weeks.
Futures pointed to a 0.3% opening loss for the S&P 500, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 closed on Friday at record highs in the lowest volume trading session of the year.
Monday's downbeat tone came as oil prices swung wildly ahead of a meeting of major oil producers in Vienna. Brent crude gained 1.1% to $48.78 a barrel after falling to as low as $47.41 earlier in the session.
OPEC had agreed in September to trim production amid a global glut of supply, but left the details of who cuts how much to a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.
"Speculation that OPEC would agree to production cuts spurred big increases last week, and we'll get this kind of back and forth until we get clarity on what exactly the deal is likely to be," said Ian Williams, strategist at brokerage Peel Hunt.
Oil prices had already shed 3.6% on Friday, as expectations for a coordinated cut in global oil production began to fade after Iran and Russia emerged as potentially deal-breaking obstacles. Saudi Arabian oil officials said they wouldn't attend a meeting with Russia Monday, damping hopes for an agreement by the cartel.
European bank shares also posted steep losses Monday ahead of a Dec. 4 referendum on Italian constitutional reform. The Euro Stoxx Banks index declined 1.3%, building on two weeks of declines.
Many investors are concerned that a "no vote" and the potential political uncertainty that follows could derail plans to shore up the country's fragile banking system. Recent polls suggest the proposed changes are likely to be rejected, an outcome that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said would prompt him to resign. Italy's FTSE MIB index dropped 0.9%.
Meanwhile, France's CAC-40 index fell 0.6%, roughly in line with its eurozone peers, after free market social conservative François Fillon won France's center-right primary over the weekend. The move positions him as the leading mainstream candidate to run against National Front leader Marine Le Pen in next spring's presidential election.
Looking ahead, 2017 is set to be "a year of political uncertainty," which could weigh on the euro, said Carl Hammer, chief currency strategist at Swedish lender SEB.
"It will be fairly tricky for theEuropean Central Bank to take a step back in a market where investors are cautious on Italy in particular and also see risks potentially in France," he said.
The euro was last flat against the dollar at $1.0589, while the British pound fell 0.5% against the dollar to $1.2421.
Momentum for the dollar otherwise began to fade Monday after its best three-week stretch since 2008, where it had been bolstered by expectations for higher interest rates, stronger U.S. economic growth and fiscal stimulus.
Emerging market currencies and the yen rose sharply against the dollar, sending the WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, down 0.2% on Monday.
The dollar was down 0.6% against the yen at Yen112.5700. The stronger yen weighed on Japan's Nikkei Stock Average, which fell 0.1% after seven days of gains.
Some investors said the pullback in the dollar was likely to prove temporary with inflation expectations on the rise and the Federal Reserve widely expected to raise interest rates in December and in 2017.
In government bond markets, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.324% from 2.359% on Friday. The yield on benchmark French government debt edged lower to 0.758% from 0.782%, while Italian government bond yields were unchanged at 2.089%.
Gold clawed back some losses after falling for much of this month, gaining 0.8% at $1,187 an ounce. The metal got a lift as the dollar softened and as reports of potential import restrictions in China pushed up demand.
Earlier, markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai advanced 0.5% after U.S. stocks notched fresh records on Friday. Australian shares declined 0.8%, however, alongside an earlier drop in oil prices.
Benoit Faucon, Kevin Baxter, Ed Ballard and William Horobin contributed to this article.
Write to Riva Gold at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 28, 2016 09:08 ET (14:08 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.