NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- European markets tumbled on the last full trading day of 2014 as energy stocks fell with global oil prices and investors weighed the prospect of early elections in Greece and their implications for the eurozone.

In London the FTSE 100 was down 0.57% at 6,596.03, as the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.69% to 4,288.32. In Frankfurt the DAX retreated 0.64% to 9,863.94.

Oil and gas stocks led benchmark indices lower as global oil prices continued their downward spiral. Brent crude was down 1.04% at $57.28 a barrel, heading for its biggest annual decline since 2008.

By late morning U.K. time, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) was down 2.04%, BG (BRGYY) surrendered 1.84% and Tullow Oil (TUWLF) shed 16%, while across the English Channel in Paris France's Total (TOT) was down 1.58%.

The prospect of early elections in Greece also weighed on investor sentiment, a day after Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaris's failed third attempt to get enough backing for his presidential candidate. He was due to meet with President Karolos Papoulias in Athens today to request elections on Jan. 25, as the opposition anti-austerity Syriza party leads polls.

Greece's Athens Stock Exchange General Index slid 0.63%, led by declines in companies including gaming firm OPAP and Piraeus Bank (BPIRY) .

Bucking the downward trend, clothing retailer Next advanced 3.76% in London on a positive outlook for the year ahead and better-than-expected sales in the eight-week-long pre-Christmas shopping season.

Sales at Next from Oct. 28 to Dec. 24 were up 2.9%, towards the upper end of the guidance range issued in October, while total sales for the year to Dec. 24 were up 7.7%.

The high-street retailer is counting on 2.5% to 7.5% full-year sales growth, with the first half expected to perform at the lower end of the range, and profits seen growing in line with sales.

Later today all eyes will be on the U.S., when the Conference Board is due to report December consumer confidence at 10 a.m. EST. And on Wednesday, when most European markets have shortened trading sessions, investors will be watching for December manufacturing data out of China.

Asian benchmark indices were also all in the red on Tuesday, with the Nikkei erasing 1.57% to 17,451 in Tokyo and the Hang Seng shedding 1.14% at 23,501.10 in Hong Kong.


TheStreet Ratings team rates ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC (RDS.A) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: RDS.A Ratings Report

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