The Pain In Spain Hits Your 401(K)

May 30, 2012 8:05am

Morning Business Memo

The pain in Spain is being felt elsewhere, and misery in Madrid could replace angst in Athens as the chief threat to the health of your 401(k) plan. Stock futures fell sharply this morning after the market rallied yesterday.

Despite a 9.6 percent plunge in the value of Facebook shares, The Dow S&P and Nasdaq all rose 1 percent or more yesterday. Now investors are worrying about Spain’s very weak economy and the threat to its banking system. The yield on Spanish ten year bonds rose again to 6.61 percent. The higher the yield the riskier investors consider a country’s debt.

The Financial Times reports today the European Central Bank “bluntly rejected as unacceptable” a Spanish plan to rescue the troubled lender Bankia with help from the ECB. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, speaking to opposition Socialist lawmakers in Parliament, denied the newspaper’s report.

Italy was forced to pay higher interest rates to borrow 5-year and 10-year money from investors as uncertainty grows over the European economy and the survival of the euro currency.  Ten-year borrowing costs rose to 6.03 percent.

Put out the fire! The Obama Administration has sent one its top Treasury Department officials to Europe. Lael Brainard is expected to urge officials in to bring the growing debt crisis under control. The Wall Street Journal says US officials “are pressing Europe on several fronts, including a broader role for the Continent’s $878 rescue plan,” according to sources.

Summer gas prices are likely to stay below last year’s average. The US Energy Department says average prices for regular gas fell 5 cents a gallon in the past week. Oil prices fell below $90 a barrel on futures markets. Analysts say Europe’s spluttering economy will reduce global demand. Crude is priced in US dollars. The currency’s value has been gaining against the weakened euro.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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