European stocks slide as Greek talks collapse

European stocks sank on Monday, with Athens plunging by more than seven percent at one stage, after last-ditch debt talks collapsed and sparked fresh fears of a Greek euro exit.

In early afternoon deals in Athens, the benchmark ATHEX index later stood at 739.64 points, down 4.50 percent from Friday’s closing level.

Greek banking shares were especially hard hit, with Piraeus Bank nosediving 11.02 percent, Alpha falling 5.56 percent, National Bank of Greece dropping 11.43 percent and Eurobank down 5.34 percent.

Elsewhere, London’s FTSE 100 index shed 0.75 percent to 6,734.20 points, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index dived 1.62 percent to 11,015 points and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 1.32 percent to 4,836.30.

“The markets were awash with red… as investors continued to deal with the aftermath of the weekend’s most recent Greek-deal collapse,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

In foreign exchange meanwhile, the European single currency fell to $1.1231 from $1.1260 late on Friday in New York.

– ‘Anxiety turns to panic’ –

“Anxiety is turning to panic as a Greek default becomes a distinct possibility,” added dealer Davide Ugolini at trading firm CurrenciesDirect.

“Talks between Athens and its creditors collapsed on Sunday night, when negotiators were unable to reach any agreement on pension reforms, budget targets and tax rates.

“As a result, there are rumours that eurozone officials are now looking at what will happen if Greece defaults on its loans when the bailout programme ends at the close of June.”

Negotiations between Greece and its creditors broke down in less than an hour on Sunday, with each side blaming the other’s refusal to back down on certain issues.

“They came with their hands in their pockets,” a furious EU source close to the negotiations told AFP, while one Greek official described the creditors’ demands as “irrational”.

With Athens due to repay billions of euros in loans by the end of the month, the latest failure raises the spectre of a default, which could ultimately lead to the country crashing out of the eurozone.

– Athens slams ‘looting’ –

A defiant Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece would “wait patiently” until its creditors — the International Monetary Fund and the European Union — become “more realistic”.

He lambasted the creditors for “political opportunism” in trying to force Athens to make further cuts to its pension system, a concession the leftist anti-austerity government has steadfastly refused to make.

In London trade on Monday, airlines fell sharply on concern over the impact of a Greek eurozone exit, or Grexit, on the sector.

No-frills carrier EasyJet saw its share price dive 2.27 percent to 1,550 pence, while shares in British Airways owner IAG slid 1.45 percent to 510.50 pence.

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