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Eurozone bank deadline, puts markets on edge


LONDON, June 30 – World stock markets were under strain on Wednesday over a deadline for European banks to repay 442 billion euros in crisis funding and an ominous drop in confidence in global recovery prospects.

Just days after G20 world leaders pledged in Toronto to slash state debt and nurture a shaky rebound, markets plunged on Tuesday on heightened concern over a double-dip global recession after a wave of poor economic data.

European equities clawed back limited ground on Wednesday, gaining around 0.75 percent in London, 0.58 percent in Frankfurt and 0.73 percent Paris,

But sentiment was fragile as investors worried about the health of the eurozone banking sector.

Stock markets were given a supporting hand mid-morning when the European Central Bank said it would make available a record amount of 131.933 billion euros (162 billion dollars) in three-month loans. It said that 171 banks had requested funds, the day before the big deadline for repayment of 12-month loans.

And the European single currency crept upwards to 1.2213 dollars in morning deals, compared with 1.2186 dollars late in New York on Tuesday.

Sentiment has been plagued by concerns about a liquidity shortfall when a special European Central Bank (ECB) lending facility expires, potentially leaving financial institutions with funding difficulties.

Eurozone banks must repay 442 billion euros (539 billion dollars) to the ECB on Thursday, which could leave a liquidity shortfall with borrowing costs jumping.

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The looming deadline, alongside economic jitters, prompted many investors to sell assets that are regarded as risky, like equities and the euro.

"The expiry of 442-billion-euros of ECB one-year funds has caused anxiety to flare up," said economist Kenneth Broux at Lloyds Banking Group.

"We momentarily see no light at the end of the risk-aversion tunnel and hold out for the dust to settle after Friday\’s US non-farm payrolls release."

Global stock markets had nosedived on Tuesday on eurozone fears, and news of a surprising erosion in US consumer confidence that sparked fresh fears for global recovery.

"Financial markets had a bad day on Tuesday," said Mark Deans, dealing manager at London-based currency specialists MoneyCorp.

"Investors are worried about the sustainability of growth and the survivability of commercial banks.

"Central to the fear was an announcement by the European Central Bank that it would not extend the special liquidity measures upon which many euro zone commercial banks have been relying for their funding."

Deans added: "Today is the last day for banks to access the facility and some of them, particularly in the more fiscally-challenged countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, worry that they will not find it easy or cheap to pick up money in the interbank market."

Asian shares had tumbled again on Wednesday, after sharp falls on Wall Street and in Europe on Tuesday, as investor sentiment was rocked by US economic recovery fears and worries of a potential slowdown in China.

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In Tokyo, shares tumbled 1.96 percent to end at 9,382.64, after sliding at one point to its lowest level since December 2009.

Hong Kong shares fell 0.59 percent, Sydney shed 1.02 percent and Shanghai lost 1.08 percent.

Stocks fell sharply from the outset on weak US consumer confidence and fears of a slowdown in the Chinese economy, brokers said.

"There are underlying concerns about a double-dip global recession," Tsuyoshi Segawa, equity strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

On Tuesday, New York\’s blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below the psychologically-sensitive 10,000 level.

The Conference Board, a US business research firm, announced that US consumer confidence had tumbled in June after three consecutive monthly rises amid increasing US economic uncertainty and unemployment concerns.

It also revised the April Leading Economic Indicator for China to 0.3 percent from 1.7 percent, adding to the gloomy outlook.


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