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Bank Shares Slide on S&P’s Eurozone Downgrades

Stocks and shares for the nation's four largest banks slid back Friday on news that ratings agency ""Standard & Poor's"":http://www.standardandpoors.com/home/en/us slashed credit ratings for several debt-saddled eurozone countries, including France, Italy, and Spain.


A 0.4-percent dip led the Dow Jones Industrial Average to end the day at 12,422 points, a 48.96 loss from the day before. The S&P 500 went south in a 0.5-percent tizzy, losing 6.41 points to close at 1,298.

Major lenders saw the markets wipe away many of their fortunes. ""Citigroup"":http://www.citigroup.com/citi/homepage/ led the way down by falling 2.72 percent into the red to finish the day at $30.74 per share.

""Bank of America"":https://www.bankofamerica.com/ followed by losing 2.65 percent in stock, closing with $6.61 per share by end of day. ""JPMorgan Chase"":http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô which saw fourth-quarter earnings fall by 23 percent ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô suffered a 2.52-percent loss that allowed it to end the day with $35.92 per share.

Of the big four, ""Wells Fargo"":https://www.wellsfargo.com/ ended the day without any reversal in stock, finishing with $29.61 per share seen from the day earlier.

S&P ignited an investor selloff in the markets earlier Friday by announcing credit changes for 16 European countries.

The ratings agency lowered by two notches the long-term outlooks for Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia each saw their ratings fall by one notch.


The other seven countries, including fiscally conservative Germany and still-recovering Ireland, retained their credit ratings.

""Today's rating actions are primarily driven by our assessment that the policy initiatives that have been taken by European policymakers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the eurozone,"" S&P said in a ""statement"":http://www.standardandpoors.com/ratings/articles/en/us/?articleType=HTML&assetID=1245327294763.

The ratings agency said that stresses in Europe include tighter credit conditions, higher risk premiums for several eurozone issuers, slow growth, and indecision among European leaders on how to resolve their debt crises.

The credit-slashing follows a widely panned European Union summit from December that S&P said ""has not produced a breakthrough of sufficient size and scope to fully address the eurozone's financial problems.""

Speaking at the MPact Mortgage Banking Conference and Expo in December, ""Doug Duncan"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/commentary/111811-duncan.html, VP and chief economist with ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html, ""said"":https://themreport.com/articles/fannie-economist-europe-clearly-in-recession-2011-12-06 that Europe had ""clearly"" entered a continental recession.

He warned that a ""disorderly set of failures"" in Europe, precipitated by credit downgrades, ""will impact our economy.""

Fleeing from Europe, investors will likely continue to finance U.S. Treasury debt, against which the industry benchmarks mortgage rates - a market shift that will help keep mortgage rates at record lows.

S&P is no stranger to controversy.

The ratings agency earned the ire of policymakers in Washington, D.C., earlier last fall when it stripped the coveted AAA credit rating from U.S. sovereign debt, helping prompt instability in the markets that lasted for several weeks.

GSEs Fannie Mae, ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/, and 10 Federal Home Loan Banks saw their credit ratings decline to AA-minus accordingly.

[Editor's Note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of _MReport_.]

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.

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