European Stocks Fall As Economic Concerns Persist

on August 06 2012 3:56 AM
Traders work at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange
Traders work at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange February 2, 2012. REUTERS

Most European markets fell Monday as investors remained watchful following a disappointing last week when the European Central Bank (ECB) made no announcement on monetary easing measures to rejuvenate the faltering euro zone economy.

The French CAC 40 index dropped 0.30 percent or 10.16 points to 33364.03. The shares of GDF Suez fell 0.86 percent and shares of Total SA declined 0.83 percent.

London’s FTSE 100 index was down 0.18 percent or 10.27 points to 5777.01. Shares of Centrica PLC fell 1.14 percent and shares of AstraZeneca PLC were down 0.78 percent.

The German DAX 30 index marginally fell 0.03 percent or 2.02 points to 6863.64. Shares of Bayer AG dropped 0.71 percent and shares of Siemens AG fell 0.61 percent.

Spain's IBEX 35 was up 1.11 percent or 74.90 points to 6830.60. Shares of Bankia SA advanced 2.81 percent and shares of Endesa SA rose 1.21 percent.

The ECB’s decision to keep its key interest rate at 0.75 percent was a blow to equity markets. However, with the euro zone seemingly headed for further gross domestic product contraction in the third quarter and with inflationary pressures muted, it is expected that the central bank will trim interest rates.

Following Mario Draghi’s speech in London in late July, when he stated that the bank will do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro, the ECB was under serious pressure to reveal strong policy measures or risk sparking a major disappointment in the markets.

Draghi indicated that the ECB will buy euro zone bonds but this will depend on the stressed countries going to the stability funds first with the conditionality that this involves. It will also not start before September as the ECB will design the appropriate modalities for such policy measures in the coming weeks.

Worries also persist with Spain and Italy not yet willing to accept the harsh reform and austerity conditions that are required for stability bond purchases. Again, even if they do, there is no guarantee that the core countries, particularly Germany, will allow such purchases to go ahead.