Before the Bell: Possible Greek exit from EU sinks markets

With Greece's departure from the Eurozone edging closer to reality, global markets took a tumble on Wednesday.

The political stalemate in Greece continues with new national elections expected for June, escalating the risk of a Greek run on banks. Adding to the Eurozone woes, the spread between Spanish and Germany bond yields has hit a record. Italy's 10-year bond yields have also jumped.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index was recently 1.4 per cent lower at 242.43. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1.4 per cent to 5359.18, Germany's DAX was down 1.5 per cent at 6306.09 and France's CAC 40 fell 1.2 per cent to 3002.04. The euro currency is presently fetching US$1.2688.

Asian bourses also took a fall as investor worries about Greece and debt contagion risks boil over. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index hit a two-month low, dropping to 4165.50, a 2.4 per cent fall; and Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell below 8800 for the first time since Feb. 1, finishing the day at 8801.17, 1.1 per cent down. South Korea's Kospi dropped 3.1 per cent to 1840.53 and the China Shanghai SE Composite dropped 1.2 per cent.

On Wall Street, U.S. futures are pointing to a lower open. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose one point at 12,606. S&P 500 Index futures were flat at 1,328. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.25 point to 2,578.50. On the economic data calendar for Wednesday, U.S. housing starts and industrial production reports are due. Also noteworthy, the Federal Open Market Committee will meet on Wednesday morning.

Here at home, Canada's benchmark sank to a seven-month low due to Eurozone anxiety. The S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 145.48 points to close at 11,343.05 on Tuesday. The TSX Venture Exchange retreated 63.76 points to 1,240.07. The Canadian dollar is currently trading at 99.32¢ US.

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