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Financial Focus

THE EU’s second round of stress tests precipitated a sharp fall in European bank shares yesterday after being slammed as “frustrating” and full of “widespread anomalies”. Analysts were scathing about the EBA first ever tests, keeping price recommendations unchanged and saying that the exercise was effectively useless as a tool for distinguishing between risky and sound banks.

CHINA’s tax revenue rose 29.6% in the first half of the year, giving officials more room to manoeuvre as they grapple with swelling local-government debt. GDP also rose, beating forecasts at 9.5% from a year earlier.

MARKETS:

Feeble bank stress tests in Europe and looming sovereign debt worries pushed UK stocks into a downward spiral yesterday and left the FTSE 100 at a two-week low. Banks took the biggest hit, with Lloyds Banking Group down 7.5% by the close.

US MARKETS followed Europe into the red, despite bumper results from oilfield services supplier Halliburton, which saw profits soar 54% in its second-quarter results. US banks were sold off as the risk climate worsened with Bank of America falling 4%, hitting a 52-week low.

ASIAN stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index declining for a fourth day, amid concern US lawmakers will fail to reach a deal on the country’s debt limit and Europe’s worsening crisis will slow the global economic recovery.

EUROPEAN markets are seen rising slightly today, halting a sharp 10-day sell-off that has seen benchmark indexes in oversold territory. Gains are likely to be capped, as fear of default in the US and Europe remains.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO was close to its lowest level in a week against the dollar on concern European leaders will be unable to agree on steps to contain the region’s debt crisis at a summit this week. The Swiss franc has seen inflows as a safe-haven currency, although the rapid move to the currency has cooled.

ENERGY:

OIL climbed in New York as signs of shrinking crude stockpiles in the US and rising demand in China countered speculation that Europe’s debt crisis will temper fuel consumption.

COMMODITIES:

GOLD touched a nominal record of $1,607 a troy ounce on Monday afternoon, having rallied 8.2% in just over two weeks. It also went through £1,00 an ounce for the first time. Silver, although flat overnight, has been catching up with gold’s advance, reaching $40.70 0 its highest since early May.

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