Europe Markets: European banks skid as ECB asks lenders not to pay dividends

Getty Images
The European Central Bank called on banks to halt dividends and buybacks until October.

European banks dropped on Monday to pace a broader market retreat after the chief regulator for the region recommended no dividend payments be made until the autumn.

The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, -0.33%, which rose 6.1% last week, fell about 1%, as did the other major benchmarks in Europe, including the German DAX DAX, +0.01%.

ING INGA, -5.95%, KBC Group KBC, -6.74%, UniCredit UCG, -5.46% and ABN Amro ABN, -7.66% each withdrew dividend-paying proposals after the European Central Bank called on banks not to pay them through October. ABN Amro also said it expects to report a loss in the first quarter, as it had announced last week a big loss from its clearing arm.

“Capital conserved by refraining from dividend distributions and share buybacks can also be used to support households, small businesses and corporate borrowers and/or to absorb losses on existing exposures to such borrowers,” the ECB said.

Other companies in Europe, including engineering group ABB ABBN, -1.13%, chip-equipment maker ASML Holding ASML, +2.44% and luxury goods giant LVMH Moët Hennessy MC, +0.59%, reported the impact of coronavirus on their finances.

President Donald Trump said social distancing measures would continue through the end of April and set June as his target for returning to normal.

There were 723,700 confirmed cases globally, including 143,025 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins tracker of COVID-19 cases. It has now been two weeks since New York City, the epicenter of the crisis in the U.S., started to implement shutdown measures.

“The coming weeks will be a blizzard of bad news—both on the economy and public health. We doubt that markets will be able to price out adverse tail risks against that backdrop, and new challenges might emerge, including sovereign downgrades, FX peg breaks, or a wave of business failures,” said analysts at Goldman Sachs.

U.S. stock futures ES00, +0.00% edged into positive territory.

Crude-oil futures CL.1, -4.32% fell over 4% after briefly falling below $20 a barrel, and the dollar gained ground on the euro EURUSD, -0.6105% and the Japanese yen USDJPY, -0.11%.