LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stocks retreated on Wednesday, with a string of disappointing news from companies including BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) , and as falling oil prices rattled markets worldwide.
In London, the FTSE 100 was 2.91% lower at 5,705.77, while in Paris the CAC 40 slid 3.33% to 4,129.90. In Frankfurt, the DAX fell nearly 3% to 9,375.71.
European stocks trailed Asia lower as Brent crude dipped below $28 a barrel, close to a 12-year-low, amid expectations of increased supply on the world market following the recent lifting of sanctions against Iran.
News of a brighter job market in the U.K. did little to lift the mood, with the Office of National Statistics reporting a 74.0% employment rate for the September to November period, the highest since it began keeping records in 1971. The unemployment rate for the same period fell to 5.1% from 5.8% a year earlier.
Later Wednesday, the focus shifts to the U.S. for a string of key data from the world's largest economy including the Consumer Price Index and housing starts.
S&P 500 futures were down 1.94% ahead of Wall Street's opening.
In London morning trading, mining company BHP Billiton was among the biggest decliners.
It stumbled 6.84% after cutting its full-year forecast for iron ore output due to an activity suspension in Brazil as a result of a dam collapse in Brazil. The company is now predicting that it will ship 237 million metric tons of iron ore this year, down from a previous forecast of 247 million metric tons.