Lender in Spain contributes to new round of Wall Street jitters
NEW YORK — Another flare-up in Europe’s debt crisis knocked U.S. markets lower Friday. This time, it was more trouble at a major Spanish bank.
Stock indexes were waffling between small gains and losses until news broke in the afternoon that Bankia, a hobbled Spanish lender, asked that country’s government for $23.8 billion in support. Earlier in the day, Standard & Poor’s cut the bank’s credit rating to junk status because of deepening uncertainty over its restructuring plans.
Concerns about Europe have sent the Dow on a steady slide this month, erasing most of its gains from the first quarter. It finished the week slightly higher, its first weekly gain for May.
The declines were broad. Eight of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell. The only sectors that rose were utilities and telecommunications, which investors tend to buy when they’re skittish about the market. Trading volume was light ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.
In Asia, media reports suggested that some of China’s biggest banks will miss their annual lending targets for the first time in seven years, and Taiwan lowered its economic growth forecast for the year. Caterpillar, which relies heavily on demand from China, fell 1 percent.