Business

Stocks knocked back by faltering Greek debt talks

Stock markets in Europe and North America are taking a hit from the IMF’s decision to walk away from bailout talks with Greece.

Athens stocks down 5.9%, while North American stocks head downwards

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces stark warnings from his EU and IMF creditors after the IMF walked away from bailout talks. The news weighed on markets on Friday. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

Stock markets in Europe and North America are taking a hit from the IMF's decision to walk away from bailout talks with Greece.

The Athens stock exchange took the steepest plunge, down 5.9 per cent Friday as investors began to doubt Greece would come to an agreement with its creditors.

Stocks in the National Bank of Greece fell by more than 10 per cent, while Piraeus Bank fell more than 11.5 per cent as investors mulled how a Greek default would weigh on its banks.

Stocks in London, Germany and throughout Europe fell, with the Euro Stox index down more than 1.4 per cent in the wake of fresh doubt about a Greek deal.

TSX, NYSE lower too

Then North American markets followed, with the TSX index down 92 points to 14,738 and New York's Dow down 140 points to 17,898 at the close.

A slip in the price of oil, with West Texas Intermediate falling to $59.98 US a barrel helped drag down Toronto energy stocks but Greece hung over the markets.

The International Monetary Fund announced Thursday it would send its negotiators home from bailout talks with Greek officials in Brussels, saying Greece was unrealistic in its demands.

"We remain engaged, but the ball is very much in Greece's court right now," said spokesman Gerry Rice.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been trying to convince EU and IMF lenders to relax conditions on releasing the last 7.2 billion euros ($9.9 billion Cdn) left in Greece's bailout fund.

Among the contentious issues are cuts to Greek pensions, civil service jobs and the size of the government budget.

Greece has already pulled in cash from government agencies and local municipalities to solve its immediate cash flow problems.

And it has postponed three debt payments to the IMF to the end of the month in an effort to buy time in the bailout talks.

Greece has a 1.6 billion-euro ($2.2 billion) IMF debt installment due June 30 and larger debts due to the European Central Bank in July and August.

Markets had been optimistic about ongoing talks with Tsipras still at the table on Thursday. But he has headed home after the break with the IMF and will have to negotiate further concessions with his fractious supporters.

"We are coming to a head," said David Mackie of JP Morgan. "Our judgment remains that Greece will offer concessions to get a deal. The Greek position deteriorates dramatically beyond the end of June, as capital controls would likely make the political and economic situation in Greece even more difficult than it is now."

With files from the Associated Press

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