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German Market Extends Losses

The German market extended the previous session's losses on Thursday, as growth worries continued to impact markets globally. The Asian markets ended mostly weak and the U.S. index futures point to a lower open.

Moody's Investors Service Wednesday downgraded the credit ratings of five Portuguese banks, mainly due to an expected deterioration in asset quality, additional asset risks and lack of access to wholesale funding sources.

Senior debt and deposit ratings of Banco Espirito Santo, Banco Internacional do Funchal, Banco BPI and Caixa Geral de Depositos were cut by one notch. The debt and deposit ratings of Banco Santander Totta, a subsidiary of Banco Santander S.A., were lowered by two notches to Ba1.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is losing 0.90 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 0.72 percent.

The DAX index has been seeing weakness and is currently losing 0.96 percent.

MunichRe and Allianz are moderately lower.

Commerzbank is losing 0.5 percent, while Deutsche Bank is rising 0.9 percent.

Berenberg reduced its rating on Man to "Sell" from "hold." The stock is marginally lower.

Deutsche Bank raised Hawesko to "Buy" from "Hold."

Exane BNP lowered its rating on ThyssenKrupp to "Underperform" from "Neutral." The shares are down 0.1 percent.

Vossloh is up 0.4 percent. The rail infrastructure provider expects a rebound in sales and earnings for the next two years with an all-time high order backlog.

SMA Solar halved its annual dividend as the company's full-year 2011 profit plunged nearly 55 percent, reflecting slowing demand for photovoltaics. The stock is declining 5.2 percent.

Hochtief is down 0.3 percent. The construction firm cut its profit forecast for 2012 after its Australian subsidiary Leighton lowered its full year earnings outlook due to slower performance at two of its projects.

Hawesko is gaining 1.1 percent. The beverages company was raised to "Buy" from "Hold" at Deutsche Bank.

Elsewhere in Europe, the French CAC 40 is falling 0.91 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is losing 0.77 percent. Switzerland's SMI is retreating 0.67 percent.

In economic news, unemployment rate in Germany declined in February, data released by the Federal Statistical Office showed. The unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in February from 6.3 percent in January.

Eurozone economic confidence dropped marginally in March after improving in January and February, survey data from the European Commission revealed. The economic sentiment index fell to 94.4 from 94.5 a month ago, below the consensus of 94.5.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets mostly fell on growth worries. China's Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.43 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.32 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.7 percent while Australia's All Ordinaries slipped 0.21 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, disappointing U.S. economic data contributed to weakness in the markets with the major averages ending the day in the red. The Dow fell 0.5 percent, the Nasdaq dropped 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.5 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is losing $0.41 to $105.00 per barrel and April gold is rising $2.5 to $1655.4 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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