Friday, August 19, 2011

World stocks plunge on growing recession fears

MILAN (AP) -- Global stocks slid again Friday as fears of a possible U.S. recession combined with ongoing worries over Europe's debt crisis, which is stoking acute fears over the continent's banking sector.

European banking shares hit a near two and a half year low on renewed worries of the health of the continent's banks, while safe-haven gold prices nudged up against the $2,000 an ounce mark, and crude prices fell as investors feared a global slowdown will zap demand for crude.

"This week has seen a continuation of the trend of weaker than expected data and political reaction to the European problems which pretty much amounts to 'Let's have a get together a couple of times a year,' " said Gary Jenkins, an analyst at Evolution Securities."

Britain's FTSE 100 lost 2.1 percent to 4,987, while Germany's DAX fell 3.3 percent to 5,394. France's CAC-40 was down 2.8 percent to 2,989.

Wall Street was headed for another slide, with Dow futures down 1.5 percent to 10,849 and S&P 500 futures 1.7 percent lower at 1,124.

Market turmoil, marked by selling off risk positions, of the last two days has dashed any hopes of a quiet second half of August -- a normally quiet period when trading dries up until the U.S. returns from the Labor Day holiday in early September.

Financial markets have wrestled for several weeks with fears that a new recession in the U.S. is in the offing. Another round of soft economic data further spooked investors all round the world. A woeful manufacturing survey Thursday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia renewed U.S. recession fears in particular.

A parallel concern centers on Europe after a Franco-German summit earlier this week failed to persuade investors a convincing fix to the spiraling debt crisis was imminent. The leaders promised further economic integration but no concrete measures like eurobonds, which would spread the risk among the 17 nations using the common currency.

Banks have borne the brunt of the selling ever since partly because German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy indicated their countries were developing a plan to tax financial transactions. Worries over their financial health and their accompanying exposure to government debt have further weighed on their share prices.

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