Investors see Spain rescue as only 'temporary fix'

By PALLAVI GOGOI,AP Business Writer Updated at 2012-06-11 19:34:48 +0000


NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

"This deal is not the be-all and end-all that will solve Spain's or Europe's other problems," said Ryan Larsen, head of equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 58 points at 12,495 at 2:30 p.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down six at 1,319. The Nasdaq composite was down 15 points at 2,842.

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 by 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.

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 fell 0.5 percent.

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.

"The Spanish deal is a temporary fix," said Jim Herrick, director of equity trading at Baird & Co.

Initial investor optimism was overshadowed by concerns over the terms of the deal, which were still being worked out. Bond investors were worried that the debt from the rescue package would put additional strain on Spain's finances.

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.

Spain has not said how much of the money it plans to use, and terms have not been laid out. 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.

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 news sent stocks of steelmakers sharply lower. U.S. Steel fell 5 percent, while AK Steel Holding fell even further, 13 percent, after its stock was downgraded by an analyst on similar concerns.

Apple stock climbed $2.61, or 0.4 percent, to $582.93, as the company unveiled a new operating system for the iPhone, a thinner MacBook Pro laptop and other products. Apple traded as high as $588.50 earlier.

The company was also expected to reveal mapping technology that could bump Google Maps from its default place on Apple products.

Among other stocks making big moves on Monday:

— Micronetics Inc. nearly doubled, up 94 percent, after the maker of microwave and radio frequency components agreed to a takeover by Mercury Computer Systems Inc.

— EnergySolutions fell 53 percent after the nuclear industry service company appointed board member David Lockwood as its new chief executive, and lowered its full-year adjusted earnings estimate.

— Progress Energy rose over 3 percent after federal regulators cleared Duke Energy's proposed takeover of the company, a deal that will create the nation's largest electric utility.