06/22/2012, 00.00
ASIA

Asian shares down after Moody's downgrades 15 banks

Seoul is down 2.2 per cent, Hong Kong, 1.08. For the banks, Moody's ratings are "unwarranted, arbitrary, [. . .] opaque," and "disappointing". US Federal Reserve cuts half a point from its predictions of US growth.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Asian shares are down today, following Wall Street's decline yesterday, and especially Moody's decision to downgrade 15 banks and financial institutions. Hong Kong dived 1.08 per cent in the afternoon. Tokyo dropped 0.29 per cent, and Seoul tumbled 2.22 per cent.

Yesterday, Moody's lowered the credit rating of 15 banks: four dropped by one level, ten dropped by two levels and one plunged by three levels. The institutions are the Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Société Générale and UBS.

Moody's said that these institutions could suffer huge losses because they are too exposed to the current financial crisis and to one another. As expected, the banks quickly criticised the rating agency.

Citigroup called Moody's decision "unwarranted, arbitrary" and "opaque". It added that the rating agency dealt out "disproportionately adverse treatment" to US banks compared with their rivals in Europe,

Bank of America and Morgan Stanley defended their balance sheet, accusing Moody's of not giving adequate credit for the substantial improvements they made.

Faced with the largest downgrade, Credit Suisse was particularly dissatisfied with the agency's rating.

The evolution of Asian and world markets are making matters worse. Forecast about lower Chinese growth is particularly disappointing.

In the United States, the US Fed predicted growth would be even worse than thought this year, between 1.9 and 2.4 per cent.

The Dow ended 1.96 per cent lower; Nasdaq dropped 2.44 per cent.

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