Greek Contagion Spreads As Italian Banks Fail To Start Trading On Monday


Greek Contagion Spreads As Italian Banks Fail To Start Trading On Monday

Just a few hundred miles west of Greece lies Italy, where banks have aggressively courted Greek business over the years. This may now make them among the first to feel any effects of a Greek default. This reality sunk in Monday morning as several Italian banks failed to start trading due to fears over a Greek debt default. Investors, wary of Greek contagion, shed peripheral stocks and it appears Italian companies, and particularly banks, were of greatest concern.

At the start of trading sell orders were so numerous that the computer controlled trading system couldn't process them all, a rare event that only happens when specific news causes a sell-off of a particular stock.

UniCredit SpA and Intesa Sanpaolo managed to start trading before accumulating losses of around 6% from Friday's closing prices.

The panic came just after comments by Italy's banking lobby head Antonio Patuelli on Sunday, in which he dismissed fears of contagion on Italian lenders, saying the country's banks' direct exposure to Greece was under $1 billion.

Italian financial stocks saw losses of six to eight percent, showing very clearly that the market does not share Mr Patuelli's confidence.

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