October 4, 2017 / 7:56 AM / 17 days ago

Catalonian crisis drags European bourses down, banks fall

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares fell on Wednesday with Spain’s IBEX marking its biggest loss since last year’s Brexit vote shook equity markets.

The impact of the crisis in Catalonia spread from Madrid and Spanish banks to the wider industry and euro zone region, particularly Italy.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.1 percent at its close while Spain's IBEX .IBEX posted a 2.9 percent loss.

Catalonia-headquartered Caixabank (CABK.MC) and Banco Sabadell (SABE.MC), the stocks most sensitive to the rising political risk, sank 5 and 5.7 pct.

King Felipe VI accused Catalan secessionist leaders of shattering democratic principles in a rare televised speech -- itself a sign of the gravity of the crisis, analysts said.

Catalonia’s leader said that the region will declare independence in a matter of days, a remark that sent Spain’s borrowing costs soaring.

Italian banks also took a hit as yields on Italian sovereign bonds rose, with Banco BPM (BAMI.MI) and UBI Banca (UBI.MI) losing 5.3 and 3.8 percent respectively.

The broader euro zone banking index .SX7E dropped 2.2 percent, its worst fall since mid-May with almost all of its constituents in the red.

The German share price index, DAX board, is seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Staff/Remote

Laurent Gaetani, head of Degroof Petercam Gestion France, said he was “surprised by the impact” of the Catalonian crisis on markets given that a process leading to effective independence for the province is still widely seen as unlikely.

“I am not too worried,” he added, arguing some investors may even see the dip in banking shares as an opportunity.

Other investors were also phlegmatic.

“There is a little impact from Catalonia, that’s for sure, because a few large stocks are based there ... but this is nothing extraordinary,” said Jerome Legras, head of research at Axiom Alternative Investments.

He said the price swings were not huge and the main view on the street was that independence was unlikely and the impact on banks outside Spain should remain limited.

Energy stocks .SXEP were down 0.6 percent, dampened by caution that a rally that has lasted for most of the third quarter would not make it to the end of the year.

Germany's DAX .GDAXI, which was closed for a bank holiday on Tuesday, caught up lost territory with a new record high and was the only main bourse trading in positive territory, with a 0.5 percent rise.

Buoyed by strong data in the United States, car makers boosted Germany’s DAX, with Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) rising 2.3 percent and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) rising 1.2 percent.

Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Helen Reid; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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