ECB cools speculation over bank health checks ahead of results

Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:43pm EDT
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By Sarah White and Michael Shields

MADRID/VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Central Bank cautioned on Wednesday against speculation over the outcome of its stress tests after a media report said at least 11 banks had failed the landmark financial health checks, driving some banking shares lower.

Austria's Erste Group (ERST.VI: Quote) rejected the report from Spanish newswire Efe, which said that it along with banks from Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal and Greece, had failed the ECB review based on preliminary data, but it gave no details of the size of the capital holes at the banks.

The ECB, which will publish the test outcomes for 130 banks on Sunday, said final results had not yet been sent to the lenders involved, and it could not comment on individual institutions.

"Any inferences drawn as to the final outcome of the exercise would be highly speculative until the results are final on 26 October," said an ECB spokesman.

The European Banking Authority, the EU watchdog coordinating the Europe-wide stress test, said the results would not be final until they are endorsed on Sunday just prior to publication. It had no comment on individual lenders.

Erste told Reuters it had no reason to believe it would fail the test.

Banks have already had some feedback on the outcome of the tests through 'supervisory dialogues' with the ECB. They get the results on Thursday, three days ahead of the public announcement. The ECB becomes supervisor of the euro zone's banks on Nov. 4.

"Out of the supervisory dialogue we have no indication we won't pass," an Erste spokesman said. The bank's shares were down 1.4 percent at 6.37 a.m. EDT.   Continued...

General view of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) during a guided media tour in Frankfurt October 21, 2014.   REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski