European Stocks Slip Back


European stock markets slipped back Friday as investors took a more critical look at the Eurozone debt rescue plan which drove massive gains the previous day in a euphoric relief rally.

Dealers said some consolidation was only to be expected given the advances of five percent and more in some centers on Thursday after EU leaders agreed to cut Greek debt, bolster the banks and strengthen a Eurozone bailout fund.

They said that while overall sentiment remained positive on the hard-won deal, the market now wanted to see specific details of how and when it will be implemented, with all eyes on Italy especially to make good on its promises to do better.

"Eurozone politicians were very successful in putting a positive spin on this week's summit but there are still significant potential pitfalls in the road ahead," said Jane Foley, senior currency analyst at Rabobank.

"A handful of French banks, and some German and Italian are still widely considered to be vulnerable. Clearly this position could be worsened if contagion makes a comeback -- and this is still a significant risk."

Rome, significantly, had to pay higher rates above the key red-line level of 6.0 percent to investors on Friday to raise fresh funds -- not a good sign, analysts said.

"At this level, the rates are not sustainable for long," Giuseppe Maraffino from Barclays Capital warned, stressing how important it is that they come down again in light of Italy's poor growth rate and vast mountain of debt.

In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was down 0.32 percent at around 1340 GMT, with Frankfurt's DAX 30 off 0.20 percent and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 0.43 percent.

The euro eased to $1.4159 from $1.4187 on Thursday, when the European single currency, seen as a riskier bet compared after the EU deal, soared to a seven-week high of $1.4247 on the EU debt deal.

The dollar fell to 75.73 yen from 75.94 yen. Thursday, while gold advanced to $1,735 an ounce from $1,718.

In New York, the market was slightly lower in early trade as investors digested Thursday's gain of 2.9 percent.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11 percent and the high-tech Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.27 percent.

Patrick O'Hare at said that after Thursday's rally and the market rebound of the past three weeks, "the weakness could simply be a case of profit taking after such a strong run."

Stock markets soared Thursday in a huge relief rally as a Eurozone deal eased concerns that the bloc's debt crisis threatened a fresh global recession.

"Risk assets across Europe rallied strongly (Thursday) in response to the latest Eurozone bailout, however .... the markets are more cautious (Friday) as the unanswered questions of how the plan will actually work start to build up," said analysts at Dolmen Stockbrokers in Dublin.

U.S. President Barack Obama meanwhile said he wanted Europe to create a "firewall" as part of its plans to contain the Eurozone debt crisis and called for continued effort.

"This week, our European allies made important progress on a strategy to restore confidence in European financial markets, laying a critical foundation on which to build," Obama wrote in the Financial Times.

"Given the scope of the challenge and the threat to the global economy, it is important for all of us that this strategy be implemented successfully -- including building a credible firewall that prevents the crisis from spreading, strengthening European banks, charting a sustainable path for Greece and tackling the structural issues at the heart of the current crisis."

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