The French market is declining in afternoon trading Monday, after the Spanish economy returned to recession in the first quarter, making the government's job of meeting the deficit targets tougher amid the public anger against the deepening austerity and record-high unemployment.
The Bank of Spain estimated that the economy slipped back into recession in the first quarter of 2012, but the rate of contraction in activity was slightly weaker than thought. The statistical office INE said the gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, compared to 0.4 percent decline estimated by the central bank last week.
Meanwhile, Standard and Poor's downgraded 16 Spanish banks after lowering last week the credit ratings of the country by two notches. The lenders being affected by today's action include Banco Santander S.A., its core subsidiary Banco Español de Credito S.A., and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is losing 0.76 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 0.38 percent.
The CAC 40 index is currently declining 0.76 percent.
Bouygues is leading the decliners by falling 5.9 percent.
Renault is losing 2.1 percent and Peugeot is sliding 0.8 percent.
Schneider Electric is falling 1.5 percent and STMicroelectronics is losing 1.4 percent.
BNP Paribas is losing about 0.8 percent. Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are up about 2 percent each.
Veolia Environnement is adding about 1 percent.
Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is adding 0.07 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.51 percent. Switzerland's SMI is sliding 0.06 percent.
In economic news, retail sales in Germany increased for the first time in three months in March, the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed.
Meanwhile, Eurozone annual inflation eased less than expected to 2.6 percent in April from 2.7 percent in March, flash estimate issued by Eurostat showed. Economists were forecasting the rate to fall to 2.5 percent in April.
Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries gained about 0.8 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed around 1.7 percent. Markets are closed today in Japan and China.
In the U.S., futures point to a mixed open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages ended the day in positive territory, benefiting from some upbeat earnings news as well as a better than expected reading on consumer sentiment. The Dow edged up 0.2 percent, the Nasdaq climbed 0.6 percent and the S&P 500 crept up 0.2 percent.
In the commodity space, crude for June delivery is falling $0.73 to $104.20 per barrel and June gold is sliding $2.2 to $1662.6 a troy ounce.
by RTT Staff Writer
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