19 May 2012

European stocks fall further

7:42 am on 19 May 2012

Share markets in Europe suffered further falls as worries continue over Greece and Spain and ratings agencies downgraded more banks.

After European markets closed on Friday, Fitch revealed it had downgraded five Greek banks, a day after Moody's downgraded 16 Spanish banks.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 1.1% lower on Friday and had dropped 5.1% on the week. Reuters reports this is worst weekly performance since September.

Around Europe, UK's FTSE 100 index ended down 1.3%, Germany's DAX index was down 0.6%, and France's CAC 40 edged 0.1%.

Spain's main Ibex index recovered after losing more than 2% early on, ending the day slightly higher, the BBC reports

Bank sector woes

Fitch cut the ratings of National Bank of Greece, Efg Eurobank Ergasias, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Agricultural Bank of Greece from B- to CCC.

The move came a day after the agency cut Greece's sovereign rating.

Moody's, meanwhile, said there were several reasons behind its downgrade of 16 Spanish banks, including that country's slide back into recession, financial challenges facing the Spanish government and bad loans in the property industry.

Despite rising bad debts and downgrades, and reports of large withdrawals by worried savers from troubled banking group Bankia, the Spanish government does not expect a run on the country's banks.

Spanish Treasury Minister Inigo Fernandez De Meza said the country will be able to solve its difficulties without a European Union bailout.

He says Spain's economic reform programme is on track and the country's level of debt is low in comparison with many other EU countries.