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European stocks drop on Ebola, bank tests

24 October 2014, 20:25

London - European stock markets slumped on Friday on concerns over New York's first Ebola case, looming eurozone bank stress test results, and news of a British economic slowdown.

London's FTSE 100 index shed 0.42 percent to stand at 6,392.51 points after data showed British economic growth slowed to 0.7 percent in the third quarter after 0.9-percent expansion in the second.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 fell 0.57 percent compared with Thursday's close to 8,996.12 points and in Paris the CAC 40 gave up 0.44 percent to 4,139.28 points.

"Equity traders have been met with red across their screens this morning as fresh Ebola worries and looming bank stress test results have dented trader's optimism," said analyst Alastair McCaig at IG trading group.

Also read: WHO sending Ebola experts to Mali, 43 people monitored for virus

The first confirmed Ebola case in New York City has meanwhile hurt investors' risk appetite.

ECB stress tests awaited

On Sunday, the European Central Bank (ECB) will issue the results of an unprecedented health check of eurozone banks under new powers for the central bank. These tests are one of the main reforms after the eurozone debt crisis to reduce the risks of a repetition of crisis in parts of the banking system.

New frameworks are intended to put up firewalls so that a fall in value of government bonds, held heavily by banks, does not pull down banks and lead to rescues by governments, which then have to issue more debt.

At the same time in London, the European Banking Authority (EBA) will publish the results of its own stress test for banks in the wider European Union.

Analysts are confident that because banks have been taking action for months now to plug any holes in their balance sheets, there will not be any nasty surprises.

"We expect that the majority of banks will pass the assessment," said credit rating agency Fitch.

On Friday, Europe's top banks saw little change in their share prices as caution ruled.

In London, Barclays dipped 0.13 percent to 225.60 pence. Lloyds was off 0.01 percent to 76.32 percent.

In Paris, Credit Agricole shares edged down 0.04 percent to 11.59 euros while Societe Generale was up 0.12 percent at 38.65 euros and BNP Paribas climbed 0.85 percent to 49.62 euros.

Shares in Commerzbank meanwhile edged up 0.04 percent to 11.68 euros in Frankfurt.

Publisher Pearson was meanwhile the top faller in the British capital, losing 4.23 percent to 1,119.50 pence.

The owner of the Financial Times newspaper revealed that sales fell six percent in the nine months of 2014 from the level a year earlier, hit by adverse currency factors.

The stock was also hit by news that chief financial officer Robin Freestone will leave before the end of 2015, after a total of 10 years at the group.

In Paris, French luxury products group Kering topped the CAC 40 fallers board, sinking 4.7 percent to 146.40 euros.

Kering posted rising third-quarter sales after the market close on Thursday, but investors focused on falling revenues at its high-end brand Gucci.

Ruble hits new low

Asian markets were mixed on Friday following strong gains on Wall Street, with Tokyo enjoying a significant bump due to the dollar's rise against the yen.

Tokyo rose 0.79 percent, Sydney added 0.54 percent, while Hong Kong lost 0.13 percent, Seoul fell 0.31 percent and Shanghai ended flat.

US stocks edged up in opening trade Friday as strong earnings from UPS and others offset disappointing results from Amazon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.06 percent in the first five minutes of trade to 16,687.44 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 added a scant 0.03 percent at 1,951.35, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.12 percent to 4,458.26.

Amazon shares sank 7.3 percent as its third-quarter loss rose ten-fold to $437 million due to the costs of product launches.

In foreign exchange deals in London, the euro climbed to $1.2673 from $1.2647 late in New York on Thursday.

The European single currency edged up to 78.89 British pence from 78.88 pence. The British pound rose to $1.6063 from $1.6032 on Thursday.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold slipped to $1,231.75 an ounce from $1,232.75 on Thursday.

Russia's ruble slumped to a new all-time low of more than 53 to the euro as the economic fall-out from the Ukraine crisis and lower oil prices caused the finance minister to call for a "back-up" 2015-2017 budget.

The ruble also slid against the dollar amid speculation swirling that Standard and Poor's could cut its rating for Russia to a "speculative" level.



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