Tuesday 12 December 2017

Shares plunge on fears of defaults

Thomas Molloy

IRISH and European shares plunged yesterday on concern that Greece and Portugal could default on their debts.

The ISEQ fell 4.5pc to 3340.57 points -- its worst one-day fall in more than six months as shares in almost every sector declined.

National benchmark indices tumbled in all 18 western European markets, except Iceland.

The UK's FTSE 100 dropped 2.6pc, Germany's DAX lost 2.7pc and France's CAC 40 slid 3.8pc. Greece's ASE Index plummeted 6pc after the nation's bond yields rose.

Bank of Ireland dropped 10pc to €1.72 while Allied Irish Banks closed down 6.8pc at €1.45 and Irish Life & Permanent fell 6.2pc to €3.05pc.

Fyffes was down 8.1pc at 34c after the banana company said late on Monday that selling prices have been "significantly" lower than expected amid "difficult" trading conditions.

C&C shed 3.8pc to €3.20 after spokesman Paddy Hughes declined to comment on a 'Sunday Business Post' report that the drinks company was preparing to sell its spirits and liqueur division for around €200m.

CRH, the biggest company on the stock exchange, tumbled 7.3pc to €20.35 after it was cut to 'hold' at Standard & Poor's.

Tullow Oil lost 4.6pc to £11.68 in London as crude oil dropped as much as 2.7pc. Rival Cairn Energy retreated 4.3pc while Petrofac, an oil services provider, slid 4.3pc.


Elsewhere in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index was down 3.1pc.

"There are a lot of concerns in the market," said Christoph Riniker, a strategist at Bank Julius Baer. "There is fear that the Greek problem will flash over to Portugal, for example."

Banco Popular Espanol declined 6.1pc after Spain's third-biggest commercial bank said first-quarter profit fell 9.2pc to €204m on lower revenue from lending.

National Bank of Greece sank 10pc while Alpha Bank lost 12pc.

Mortgage-covered bonds of Greece's three biggest lenders were cut or placed on negative review by Moody's Investors Service.

Portuguese lender Banco Comercial Portugues declined 7.6pc. With a higher debt burden and a slower 10-year growth rate than Greece, western Europe's poorest country is being punished by investors as the sovereign-debt crisis spreads.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its long-term local and foreign currency sovereign issuer credit ratings on Portugal to A- from A+.

The risk premium on Portuguese bonds rose to more than double the past year's average this month. Portugal's credit default swaps show investors rank its debt as the world's eighth-riskiest, worse than for Lebanon and Guatemala.

BHP, the world's biggest mining company, retreated 4.2pc while Xstrata, the fourth-largest copper producer, slid 4.7pc.

Irish Independent

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