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Greek saga casts shadow across Europe

The Greek tragedy trundled on yesterday as the German government, the European Central Bank and finance ministers remained at odds over plans on easing Greece's weighty debt load.

The ECB also warned that the crisis in the Balkan state posed a significant risk to the European Union's overall financial stability. Investors reckon that Greece, which now has the lowest credit rating in the world, won't be able to repay its debts. The ECB is against any solution that could be perceived as a default. Weak data from the United States also depressed stocks during the day.

At home, the ISEQ Overall Index closed down 1.14pc, or over 33 points, to end the session at 2888.22. It could have been worse, with the index having been off as much as 41 points earlier in the day. The decline was in line with other European markets.

Movers yesterday included index heavyweight CRH, which fell nearly 2.6pc, or over 37 cents, to exit at €14.17. That has brought the stock's decline back to levels not seen since last December and marks a 16pc fall since it reached €16.88 at the end of March. In the US, the New York Federal Reserve released data showing manufacturing sentiment unexpectedly deteriorated this month. Food group Greencore declined 1.4pc, or 1.5 cent to €1.06, despite having made gains earlier in the day when it was ahead 2.3pc. There has been speculation that the company, which made a failed tilt at merging with Northern Foods earlier this year, has increasingly become a possible takeover target.

Bank of Ireland, which held its AGM in Dublin yesterday, closed down 2.3pc, or just less than a third of a cent, at 12.8 cent.

Gainers included drug company Elan, which added 2.7pc to €7.56. Shares in the company have climbed more than 12pc since the start of the month.

National benchmark indices declined in all of the 18 western European markets, except Iceland. The UK's FTSE-100 slid 1pc, France's CAC 40 dropped 1.5pc and Germany's DAX retreated 1.3pc.

National Bank of Greece, the country's biggest lender, retreated 6pc to €4.57, the largest drop since March 8.

BNP Paribas fell 2.5pc to €51.30, Societe Generale lost 2.6 pc to €38.78 and Credit Agricole slid 2.5pc to €9.90.

Banco Santander, Europe's second-largest bank, fell 3pc to €7.62 as the Spanish central bank called for Spain's 17 regions to help control public finances. Italy's Banco Popolare dell'Emilia Romagna plunged 6.7pc to €7.27 and Banco Comercial Portugues lost 6.1pc to 41.3 cents.

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