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European stocks slide as banks hit with huge forex rigging fine

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

European equities fell Wednesday as global regulators fined five top European and US banks $3.2 billion over alleged foreign exchange rigging.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dipped 0.36 percent to stand at 6,604.14 points near midday in the British capital, with sentiment hit also by disappointing company results.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 reversed 1.18 percent to 9,258.32 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 shed 0.81 percent to 4,209.55 compared with Tuesday's closing values.

British, US and Swiss regulators announced on Wednesday fines worth a total of 2.5 billion euros against five major US and European banks for attempting to manipulate the foreign exchange (FX) market.

The hefty fines centred on London, the world's biggest hub for the $5.3-trillion-per-day forex market.

British banks HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), US peers Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and Swiss lender UBS have all been fined by Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FCA slapped the five banking giants with a total penalty of £1.1 billion ($1.7 billion, 1.4 billion euros), while the CFTC fined them $1.4 billion.

However, British bank Barclays -- which was at the heart of the 2012 Libor rate-rigging affair -- was not included in the settlements and remains under investigation.

The gloomy news sent Barclays shares tumbling 1.99 percent to 229.92 pence in midday London deals.

Shares in state-owned RBS meanwhile slid 0.32 percent to 376.50 pence, but HSBC rose 0.40 percent to 50.57 pence.

"The FTSE 100 ... is weighed down by banking stocks as the next scandal breaks," said IG analyst Chris Beauchamp.

"The banking sector has taken a hit ... as investors wearily start to price in the potential implications of the foreign exchange-rigging scandal."

Also in London, British supermarket giant Sainsbury's topped the FTSE 100 losers board after it posted a shock loss.

Shares in Sainsbury's dived 5.09 percent to 255.4 pence after it revealed a pre-tax loss of £290 million for the first six months of its financial year.

The retailer also warned its second-half performance was likely to be weaker, amid intense competition from German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl.

British luxury clothing and handbag maker Burberry meanwhile saw shares slide 1.18 percent to 1,510 pence as it logged falling first-half profits.

In Wednesday's foreign exchange deals, the European single currency slid to $1.2443 from $1.2474 late in New York on Tuesday.

The euro fell to 78.11 British pence from 78.34, while the British pound firmed to $1.5931 from $1.5920 on Tuesday.

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold increased to $1,163.80 an ounce from a $1,156.50 late on Tuesday.

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