Europe acts to calm markets

Cash injected into financial system jolted by collapse of US subprime mortgage market.

    The US Federal Reserve has so far refused to intervene in the crisis roiling the markets [AFP]

    Until the past few weeks, most of the banks and companies affected were in the US.
    However, analysts and economists said the ECB's move on Thursday was evidence that the problems in subprime lending in the US are spilling into the general economy.
    Others saw it as a case of the European Central Bank stepping in where the US Federal Reserve Bank has not.
    Quick tender
    The European Central Bank, which controls monetary policy for Germany, France and 11 other nations in the euro zone, said it allocated 94.8bn euros ($130.52 bn) in the one-day quick tender to ensure orderly market conditions.
    Forty-nine bidders took part in the tender.
    Its action came after French bank BNP Paribas SA announced the suspension of three asset-backed securities funds, saying it could not value them accurately.
    That had sent stocks lower in Europe and the US as investors looked for safer havens such as treasuries.
    BNP Paribas said it was suspending three funds worth a total of 2bn euros ($2.75bn): Parvest Dynamic ABS, BNP Paribas ABS Euribor and BNP Paribas ABS Eonia.
    German concerns
    BNP's announcement came on the heels of banks in Germany issuing similar concerns.
    WestLB Mellon Asset Management, the asset management joint venture of German state bank WestLB AG and The Bank of New York Mellon Corp, suspended redemptions this week from its asset-backed securities ABS Fund, which is part of the West LB Mellon Compass Fund.
    WestLB AG denied speculation that it is facing a fund liquidity problem. Other companies, including Union Investment Asset Management, a German mutual fund manager, and Frankfurt Trust, a unit of BHF-Bank, have also halted redemptions.
    Bush statement
    On Thursday, George Bush, the US president, said there was "enough liquidity" to allow a correction in the markets, shaken by a crisis in the subprime mortgage sector.
    "I am told there is enough liquidity to enable those markets to correct," said Bush, responding to a question at a White House news conference.
    He cited robust job creation and rising real after-tax wages.
    Treasury vigilant
    On Thursday, a spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said that the bank had added $12bn of temporary reserves to the banking system through regular market operations.
    For its part, the US treasury department said it "continues to monitor markets and remains vigilant".
    The $12bn was the most since August 2, when the same amount was added through a repurchase agreement, the New York Fed said.
    The most recent repurchase agreement was on Wednesday, the day after the Fed held its key interest rate steady at 5.25 per cent, and had added $8.75bn in temporary reserves.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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