LONDON -- Greece is the word that has been scaring the living daylights out of Europe in a week dominated by the ongoing eurozone crisis. After a series of failed attempts to form a coalition government in Athens, there are fresh Greek elections to be held next month.
The overall confusion sent the Athens General Index (INDEX: GD.AT ) sliding further, as it lost another 8% to end at 550.
Spanish debt fears
In Spain, the IBEX 35 (INDEX: ^IBEX ) was driven lower by further falls after Moody's downgraded the credit rating of 16 banks, and it ended the week down 4%, at 6,567. There are growing fears now of a Spanish debt default.
Bankia, rescued last week, saw its share price slide by a massive 40% to a week low of 1.2 euros, but it rallied to end on 1.8 euros, just 12% down. Others affected by the downgrade included Banco Santander, which lost a modest 2% on the week to close on 4.6 euros.
FTSE crashing again
The contagion spread to London, where the FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) was sent down another 4%, to end the week at 5,268. It was the worst week for the U.K.'s flagship index since August last year and wiped 80 billion pounds off the value of its shares.
Lloyds Banking Group fell 15% on the week to 26 pence, and Barclays, which has avoided any need for a bailout so far, dropped 14% to 178 pence.
We did have a tiny handful of FTSE 100 risers. Security specialist G4S, which will be helping keep the crowds safe at the summer Olympics, announced a strong first quarter coupled with the appointment of ex-Deloitte chief John Connolly as its new chairman. The stock rose 2.5% to 272 pence.
A few miners halted their recent decline, with Randgold Resources putting on 3% to 4,897 pence, and Antofagasta just making positive territory with a 1% recovery to 1,049 pence. Are U.K. miners ripe for buying now, at the bottom of a commodities cycle? They just might be.
But it was a bad week overall for the FTSE, with the index now down more than 11% since its mid-March peak of 5,965.
Not too bad in France
In Paris, the CAC 40 (INDEX: ^FCHI ) fell back, losing 2% to 3,008, despite looking as if new socialist president Francois Hollande is perhaps not going to be rocking the euro boat after all.
But the index was almost totally red, again with banks the big losers. Credit Agricole fell 13% to 3 euros, with BNP Paribas losing 8.5% to 26 euros. Other fallers included Michelin, which fell by 12% to 48 euros.
But big losses in Germany
Things were worse in Germany, which enjoys one of the few prudently run economies in Europe, and the DAX (INDEX: ^GDAXI ) finished the week 3.5% down at 6,271.
In fact, there wasn't a single rise on the German index over the full week, with Commerzbank leading the fallen on an 11% loss to 1.4 euros. But it wasn't just banks, as Bayerische Motoren Werke (better known as BMW) saw its stock fall 9% to 61 euros.
What will the shambolic state of European economics bring to the markets next week? I'd hate to guess, but it can't be any worse than this week, can it?
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- Eight Stocks Held by Britain's Super Investor
- The Market's Top Sectors