Stock futures, risk assets hit Monday after European elections


  • Business
  • Monday, 07 May 2012

NEW YORK: Stock index futures fell after Greek voters trounced ruling parties in elections on Sunday, a result that put the country's future in the euro zone at risk, and as Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won the French presidency.

S&P 500 futures were down 12.3 points at 1,350.20 at 7:35 p.m. EDT (2335 GMT)(0625 a.m. Malaysian time), suggesting a fall of about 1 percent when the U.S. stock market opens on Monday.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 176 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 28 points.

Results from Greece, with over 61 percent of the vote counted, showed the only two major parties supporting a European Union-International Monetary Fund program that keeps Greece from bankruptcy would struggle to form a lasting coalition.

In France, Hollande, shortly after winning the presidential election on Sunday against conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, promised to start a pushback against German-led austerity policies.

David Kotok, president of Cumberland Advisors, an investment firm based in Sarasota, Florida, said despite the initial negative reaction of investors to the election results, the chances of more active monetary policy among leading advanced economies seemed to be rising, which would provide relief.

"Once markets realize that the political winds are now accelerating toward more easing by the G4, markets will resume an upward bias," Kotok said in an emailed note on Sunday. - Reuters

Risk assets weaken after French, Greek elections

TOKYO: Risk assets fell broadly on Monday after elections in Greece and France fuelled questions about whether struggling euro zone economies will continue to pursue austerity measures which are seen by markets as crucial to resolving the bloc's debt crisis.

U.S. stock futures were down 1.1 percent, indicating a big drop for MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan. Japan's Nikkei stock average is expected to open sharply lower on Monday.

U.S. crude futures dropped more than $3 a barrel to a low of $95.34 a barrel while Brent crude also fell more than $2.50 to a low of $110.34 after the Greek and French elections and weak U.S. jobs data on Friday.

The Australian fell to a four-month low near $1.0115 against the dollar on Monday while the euro fell to its lowest since Jan. 25 of $1.2956.

"Austerity will not work to solve Europe's debt crisis. However shifting austerity to higher earners and business will accelerate the debt crisis," said Jeff Sica, president of SICA Wealth Management, which manages over $1 billion in client assets, real estate and private equity holdings.

Socialist Francois Hollande swept to victory in France's presidential election, ousting incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy who had played a key role in structuring bailout schemes for indebted euro zone members and pushed for strict fiscal policies aimed at managing huge debts, in close cooperation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In Greece, voters rejected pro-bailout policies that have shielded Athens from bankruptcy and a euro exit, dealing a serious blow to the fragile political consensus that has kept Europe's currency bloc intact through more than two years of crisis.

The results put pressure on Germany to take a more growth-oriented approach to the crisis.

Merkel invited Hollande to visit Berlin as soon he can for a meeting that will set the groundwork for a consensus on growth policies vital to the euro zone's future health.

"The Merkel/Hollande initiative will never materialize due to Hollande and Merkel being polar opposites with no chance to agree on anything," Sica said.

Investor sentiment had already weakened substantially on Friday on weak data in both Europe and the United States/

Wall Street posted its biggest weekly fall this year after U.S. jobs data showed 115,000 workers were hired in April, well below forecasts of 170,000, raising question about the growth prospect in the world's largest economy.

European stocks and oil prices were also pulled down on Friday by a sharp drop in Markit's Eurozone Services PMI, which gauges business activity, to 46.9 for April from 49.2 in March, suggesting recession in the euro zone could extend to mid-year and be deeper than previously imagined. - Reuters

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