Wednesday 21 March 2018

European shares fall on Greece concerns, Deutsche Bank slides

Alexis Tsipras, Greece's prime minister,
Alexis Tsipras, Greece's prime minister,

European shares edged lower on Monday, with persistent concerns about Greece's debt situation prompting some investors to take profits after recent strong gains.

There were also stock-specific declines. Deutsche Bank fell 4.9 percent as investors doubted whether co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen would meet their new targets.

The German lender plans to cut 200 billion euros ($217.5 billion) in investment bank assets and exit a tenth of the countries in which it operates as part of a restructuring programme designed to boost earnings and cut risk.

Investors' focus stayed on Greece. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hinted on Saturday that Berlin was preparing for a possible Greek default, drawing a parallel with the secrecy of German reunification plans in 1989.

Greece looks set to run out of cash in the coming weeks. Euro zone finance ministers warned Greece on Friday that its leftist government will get no more aid until it agrees a complete economic reform plan.

"Given the impasse between the two sides, it just doesn't seem that we are getting any further forward. Many creditor nations are losing patience," Peter Dixon, equity strategist at Commerzbank, said.

"The willingness to give in to these kind of Greek threats is perhaps less than it was because a lot of people think that a Greek exit would not necessarily lead to the worst-case outcome that might have been predicted some years ago."

Greek shares fell 0.3 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.3 percent at 1,622.42 points by 0814 GMT.

On the positive side, Volkswagen gained 3.4 percent following the resignation of its supervisory board Chairman Ferdinand Piech on Saturday, following a showdown with Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn.

HSBC rose 2.8 percent on a report that Europe's biggest bank was weighing plans to spin off its British retail bank in a 20 billion pound ($30.4 bln) deal.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index reached its highest level in nearly 15 years earlier this month and is up nearly 20 percent so far this year.


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