Banking fears grip European markets

European stock markets fell Monday with banks in free fall as investors fretted over a second British government bailout.

January 20, 2009 11:00
1 minute read.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index fell for the first time in three days, dropping 9.05, or 1.3 percent, to 669.41 at the close in Tel Aviv. Investors traded about NIS 913 million in shares and convertible securities. Bank Leumi Le Israel Ltd. declined 2.4%, and Bank Hapoalim Ltd. dropped 4%. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. retreated 0.9%. Israel and Germany have agreed to allow two more carriers to fly scheduled flights between the two countries, the Transportation Ministry said. WALL STREET Wall Street was closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Day national holiday. EUROPE European stock markets fell Monday with banks in free fall as investors fretted over a second British government bailout of the sector in three months and some predicted that cash-strapped Royal Bank of Scotland Group would end up fully nationalized. Europe's early gains were erased as the investors were spooked by fears that the British government's latest move was a step toward full nationalization of one or more banks, and that other governments will have to step in to save their leading banks. The FTSE 100 Index of leading British shares was down 0.9% to 4,108.47. Germany's DAX closed down 1.2%, while France's CAC-40 fell 0.9%. ASIA Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average edged up 26.70 points, or 0.3%, to 8,256.85. CURRENCIES The shekel fell on speculation the central bank may cut interest rates for the sixth time in three months to fend off the global recession. It slipped as much as 1.1% against the dollar to 3.8621 and was at 3.8555 by 4:30 p.m. in Tel Aviv. The euro fell 1.2% to $1.3129., as the European Commission said the economy of the nations that share the currency would contract this year for the first time since the euro was introduced a decade ago. COMMODITIES Oil prices continued to languish with light sweet crude for February delivery down $2.36 at $34.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold for immediate delivery lost as much as $10.70, or 1.3%, to $832.45 an ounce and traded at $838.82 an ounce by 5:14 p.m. in London.

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