UK bank shares plunge as Brexit spooks investors

Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:58am EDT
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By Sinead Cruise

LONDON (Reuters) - Shares in UK banks plunged on Monday as fears over the fallout from Britain's decision to leave the European Union sparked earnings downgrades and sell-offs by shell-shocked investors.

Shareholder anxiety about "Brexit" escalated despite calls for calm from British finance minister George Osborne following a weekend of political chaos in Britain and the euro zone.

Barclays (BARC.L: Quote), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L: Quote) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L: Quote) were among the hardest hit stocks, with falls of 15 percent, 8 percent and 16 percent respectively.

That helped push the STOXX Europe 600 bank index down to 120.2 points, less than 40 points off its August 1992 record low.

Barclays shares are now down 42 percent year to date, while RBS has shed 48 percent. The drop in state-controlled RBS has lost the UK Treasury around 8 billion pounds ($10.6 billion) in the last two market sessions.

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, which reserves the right to intervene in disorderly markets, had no comment on the falls.

After lauding efforts by banks to cut costs and beef up balance sheets in recent months, a string of analysts said the likelihood of catatonic interest rates and falling credit demand after Brexit had put earnings prospects and dividend growth at risk.

"The market is justifiably concerned about the sustainability of earnings in a macroeconomically uncertain environment," RBC Capital said in a note that slashed its price targets for British banks by 30 percent.   Continued...

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen at dusk in east London, Britain November 7, 2014.  REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo