The French market is in negative territory on Friday, as some disappointing news from across the Atlantic, where Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke refrained from announcing any stimulus measures, dampened investor sentiment. A faster than expected decline in German exports also hurt confidence, in addition to Fitch's action on Spain.
In his testimony before the Joint Economic Committee in Washington, Bernanke said U.S. economic growth appears poised to continue at a moderate pace and suggested that last week's disappointing jobs report may have reflected temporary factors. He didn't signal any imminent action, but said the Fed would intervene if financial conditions worsen.
Meanwhile, ratings agency Fitch downgraded Spain's sovereign ratings by three notches to 'BBB' from 'A.' This reflects higher than expected fiscal cost of restructuring and recapitalizing the Spanish banking sector, which it now estimates to be around 60 billion euros or as high as 100 billion euros in a more severe stress scenario.
Eurozone finance ministers are reportedly holding a meeting over the weekend to discuss aid for Spain.
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 0.28 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 0.53 percent.
The CAC 40 index is currently losing 0.72 percent.
France Telecom is declining the most, by falling 5.9 percent.
Peugeot is dropping 2.4 percent and Renault is losing 1.7 percent. UBS added Renault to "Most Preferred List."
Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are declining between 1.7 percent and 1.3 percent.
Among the gainers, Veolia Environnement is advancing 1.5 percent and Danone is gaining 1 percent.
Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is retreating 0.45 percent and the UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.58 percent. Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.33 percent.
In economic news, German exports declined faster than expected in April as the deepening crisis in the euro area impacted demand from European countries, data from the Federal Statistical Office revealed. Signaling the weakening of domestic consumption, imports plunged at the fastest pace in two years.
U.K. output price inflation eased in May to the lowest since November 2009, data from the Office for National Statistics showed. Month-on-month, input prices were down 2.5 percent, which was the largest monthly fall since December 2008.
Across Asia/Pacific, markets were a sea of red. Australia's All Ordinaries lost 1.1 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 retreated 2.1 percent.
In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow rose 0.4 percent, while the Nasdaq fell 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 edged down less than a tenth of a percent.
In the commodity space, crude for July delivery is losing $2.15 to $82.67 per barrel and August gold is falling $8.5 to $1579.5 a troy ounce.
by RTT Staff Writer
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