Investors give thumbs down to Spanish bank rescue

Trader George Ettinger, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on June 11, 2012. AP Photo/Richard Drew

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Investors aren't sold on a rescue of Spanish banks.

Stocks fell on Wall Street, an early rally faded on European stock exchanges, and borrowing costs for Spain crept higher on the bond market Monday - all expressions of doubt about the latest fix for a debt crisis in Europe.
   
Investors were uncertain whether the rescue package would be enough to save the Spanish banks and whether the terms of the loan, still undisclosed, would deliver another blow to the recession-hobbled Spanish economy.

"People want to see clarity," said Stephen Carl, head of equity trading at The Williams Capital Group, an investment bank in New York. "No one likes a situation that's to be determined."

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The Dow Jones industrial average opened up almost 100 points but sank all day and closed down 143 points at 12,411.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 17 points to 1,309, and the Nasdaq composite declined 49 points to 2,810.
   
European countries committed over the weekend to lend Spain up to $125 billion to distribute to its banks, which have been driven almost to insolvency from a bust in real estate prices four years ago.
   
Spain became the fourth European nation to seek a rescue, after Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
   
Market strategists had hoped that the rescue in Spain would at least temporarily ease fear that debt problems in Europe will explode into a world financial crisis and hurt the fragile global economy.

Those strategists had predicted a rally in stocks after the deal was announced. But investor relief was short-lived.

Heightening these concerns, Fitch Ratings on Monday downgraded Spain's two largest international banks Banco Santander and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) from A to BBB+.

The credit rating agency said the reasons for the downgrade were primarily because Spanish sovereign debt ratings had been downgraded to BBB- from A- on June 7 and also due to forecasts that Spain's faltering economy would remain in recession throughout this year and also in 2013 "compared to the previous expectation that the economy would benefit from a mild recovery in 2013."

France's main stock index closed down 0.3 percent, and Germany's rose just 0.2 percent. Both indexes were up more than 2 percent earlier in the day. Spain's benchmark stock index shot higher by 6 percent but closed down 0.5 percent.
   
"The Spanish deal is a temporary fix," said Jim Herrick, director of equity trading at Baird & Co.
   
More alarming, the yield on Spanish 10-year bonds climbed 0.29 percentage point to 6.47 percent, suggesting the bond market is losing confidence in Spain's finances. The yield had fallen earlier.
   
Initial investor optimism was overshadowed by concerns over the terms of the deal, which were still being worked out.
   
Finance ministers of the 17 countries that use the euro currency said they would make the $120 billion available to the Spanish government to distribute to its banks.
   
Bond investors were worried that the debt from the rescue package would put additional strain on Spain's finances. The European Union made clear Monday that there would be some strings attached besides interest.
   
"When people lend money, they never do it for free. They want to know what is done with the money," said Joaquin Almunia, the European Competition Commissioner.
   
Other events in Europe also weighed on the markets. Investors are nervously awaiting an election this weekend in Greece that will help determine whether that country is forced out of the euro group.
   
And Italy said its economy contracted by 0.8 percent in the first three months of the year, the worst showing in three years. The Italian government is struggling to fend off the perception that Italy will be next to need a rescue.
   
The yield on the Italian 10-year government bond crept higher, too - by 0.29 percent from Friday to 5.84 percent.
   
"This deal is not the be-all and end-all that will solve Spain's or Europe's other problems," said Ryan Larson, head of equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management.
   
The price of oil reversed an earlier gain, falling 65 cents to $83.46 a barrel. Investors bought safer investments like U.S. Treasury notes, sending the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down to 1.60 percent from 1.64 percent Friday.
   
Also adding to market worries is China's economic slowdown. A large steelmaker in China, Baoshan Iron & Steel, said it lowered steel prices as demand from makers of appliances and cars slowed.
   
"China is a big piece of the global economic puzzle," Herrick said. "Any piece of news that comes out from there will be closely scrutinized."
   

The downbeat mood Monday took some sheen off the market's performance last week, when stocks recorded their strongest week of the year. News that businesses were restocking their inventories faster than expected pushed stocks higher Friday, giving the Dow Jones industrial average its fourth straight day of gains.

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