London's blue chips dropped sharply on Friday morning with the mass bank downgrade by Moody's weighing on sentiment across Europe.
Credit ratings agency Moody's has downgraded 15 major banks and financial instiutions, including the major lenders on Britain's High Street. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC all got the downgrade treatment as the agency completed its review of the global banking sector. Barclays' rating was downgraded by two notches while the ratings of the others were ratcheted down by one level.
Spain's banks will need €51-62bn euros in additional capital in a worst case scenario, according to the independent consultants Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger hired by the government to perform a new round of stress tests on its financial sector.
However, analysts at Barclays Capital said that the situation in Spain will remain "unsettled" for the near future. "Some reactivation of secondary market purchases, coupled with further ECB actions (a rate cut of 50 basis points on July 5th and collateral easing), along with fundamental progress at the June 28-29th meeting, is essential for the unstable equilibrium not to deteriorate further or for some long-lasting improvement in Spanish bonds, in our view," they said.
In other news, Eurozone finance ministers plan on releasing by the end of the month the €1bn in bailout funds to Greece that was withheld due to concerns over the June 17th elections, according to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker.
FTSE 100: Resources stocks lead the fallers
Oil services stocks and oil producers dropped on the back of falling crude prices: Petrofac, Tullow Oil and BG Group were suffering heavy losses. Meanwhile, mining groups Vedanta, ENRC, Kazakhmys, Fresnillo and Randgold were also lower as metals prices declined.
BHP Billiton was out of favour after giving the go-ahead to a massive investment on its coal operations in New South Wales, Australia. The group is spending US$845m to sustain operations at Illawarra Coal by establishing a replacement mining area at the Appin Mine.
Losses in the banking sector were only modest despite the mass bank downgrade by Moody's. RBS fell slightly after saying it disagreed with the ratings change, saying the change is "backward-looking and does not give adequate credit for the substantial improvements the group has made to its balance sheet, funding and risk profile." HSBC and Barclays were also in the red.
However, Lloyds made gains after saying that Moody's has recognised "the substantial momentum we have made in de-risking our balance sheet and delivering on our strategy." In a separate report, Moody's left Lloyds's short-term P-1 rating unchanged, but the longer-term senior debt and deposit ratings have been lowered by one notch to A2 from A1, and the standalone credit assessment has also been lowered by one notch to baa2 from baa1.
FTSE 250: Cobham falls after loses Voyager conversion to Spain
Cobham Aviation Services, a division of defence technology contractor Cobham will not be converting the remaining UK Voyager aircraft. The company in charge of the project, AirTanker, has decided to relocate the conversion operation to Spain. The news sent shares lower early on.
Property company London and Stamford fell after buying a stake in a residential block adjacent to the Chelsea Barracks development in south-west London.
UK bookie William Hill edged higher after being granted non-restricted gaming licences by the the Nevada Gaming Commission, clearing the way for the company to start operating in the USA.
Shares in Morrison were falling sharply after UBS confirmed that it had placed around 100m shares in the supermarket stock on behalf of an institutional seller at 280p each, well below yesterday's closing price of 289.30p. [1 Hour Ago]
The FTSE 100 was continuing to trade within an extremely tight range on Thursday morning as investors consider how much further the rally will go given that the index is already trading at levels not seen in five and a half years. [Thu 11:34]
Severn Trent topped the leaderboard after it confirmed press speculation that it has received a bid approach from a consortium of investors, which is rumoured to value the UK utility company around 5.3bn pounds. In a statement released this morning, Severn Trent said it had received an approach with a view to making a proposal from Canadian infrastructure investor Borealis, the Kuwait Investment Office and Universities Superannuation Scheme. [14 May '13]
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