London - World stocks and the euro slipped on Wednesday as investors grew concerned that French and German plans for closer fiscal integration may be insufficient to stop the regional debt crisis from spreading further.
The Swiss franc surged against the euro after the Swiss National Bank said it would expand existing measures to counter the franc strength, but stopped short of announcing more drastic moves which some investors had expected.
France and Germany unveiled far-reaching plans for closer eurozone integration on Tuesday but stopped short of increasing the size of the region’s rescue fund and rejected for now the idea of a common euro bond.
Support for a common bond had been growing as it is increasingly seen as a way to allow highly indebted eurozone countries to regain access to commercial markets while providing investors a safeguard through joint liability.
“There weren’t any scoops as the proposals had been mentioned over the past few days. Overall, the outcome of the meeting wasn’t convincing, with no euro bond project,” said Patrice Perois, trader at Kepler Capital Markets, in Paris.
MSCI’s world equity index fell a quarter percent, having hit a 1/2 week high on Tuesday. The index hit an 11-month low earlier in August during a volatile week which saw a rush to safe-haven assets.
European stocks fell 1% while emerging stocks lost 0.2%. US crude oil rose 0.6% to $87.18 a barrel. Bund futures rose 36 ticks. The euro fell a quarter percent to $1.4367. The dollar rose 0.1% against a basket of major currencies.
Bank shares hit
Shares in European banks and leading financial services firms fell sharply after the meeting rekindled plans for a financial transaction
tax. Shares of those firms involved in trading stocks and other
securities fell, with London Stock Exchange down 3.6,% Deutsche Boerse down 6.3% and NYSE Euronext down 6.2%.
Inter-dealer broker ICAP was also hit, down 3.6% while the
STOXX Europe 600 Financial Services index and Banks index were among the top
sectoral fallers, down 1.7%, and 1.9%, respectively.
However, some analysts said the sell-off was overdone especially as
the tax could face stiff opposition from other eurozone members and financial
institutions, which have already suffered heavy losses from their exposure to
bonds issued by the currency bloc’s peripheral countries.
“We doubt that a financial transaction tax (especially on
derivatives) will be introduced in the eurozone as it will damage the local
financial industry (and tax base) without doing any good,” analysts at Silvia
Quandt said in a note.