By Nathalie Tadena
International companies trading in New York closed lower Thursday, as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's comments that fears of a broad economic slowdown across the euro zone had materialized, justifying the ECB's decision to cut its interest rates to historic lows, weighed on investor sentiment.
The Bank of New York index of ADRs fell 1.5% to 119.78.
The ECB was among several central banks to disclose easing measures Thursday, cutting its refinance rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 0.75%. The Bank of England kept its important rate unchanged, but increased the size of its bond-buying program by 50 billion pounds ($77.96 billion). China's central bank also lowered interest rates for the second time in less than a month.
Shares of Spanish banks Banco Santander S.A. (SAN, SAN.MC) fell 5.3% to $6.31 and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (BBVA, BBVA.MC) slipped 5.8% to $6.60, amid disappointment that the ECB didn't indicate it would pump more money into the banking system.
The European index fell 1.8% to 110.40.
Elsewhere in the region, Veolia Environment S.A.'s (VE, VIE.FR) shares fell 8.6% to $11.65 after UBS downgraded its stock-investment rating on the French utility company to sell from neutral and reduced its target price.
ING downgraded Aegon NV (AEG, AGN.AE) to hold from buy on macroeconomic headwinds and a limited upside potential for the share price. Shares of the Dutch life-insurance and pension company were off 5.9% to $4.47.
The Asian index slid 1.1% to 119.76.
VisionChina Media Inc. (VISN) lowered its second-quarter earnings view amid declining revenue from its Internet-based businesses and other factors, including slower-than-expected advertising spending by small and midsize clients. Shares dropped 22% to 73 cents.
Ambow Education Holding Ltd. (AMBO) reported Wednesday it swung to a loss in its first quarter, while analysts had projected a quarterly profit, and also posted revenue below analyst expectations. The China-based education company also issued a downbeat revenue forecast for the second quarter and full year and disclosed the resignation of its chief financial officer. Shares sank 20% to $3.73.
The Latin American index traded down 1.5 points to 322.95 while the emerging-markets index ended about 1% lower at 273.76.
The New York-listed shares of Argentine banks closed lower Thursday, after President Cristina Kirchner said she will force banks to make cheap loans to businesses as her government tries to revive a rapidly slowing economy. BBVA Banco Frances SA (BFR, FRAN.BA), a subsidiary of Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, fell 7.9% to $3.37. Banco Macro SA (BMA, BMA.BA) declined 8.2% to $12.47, while Grupo Financiero Galicia SA (GGAL, GGAL.BA) closed 6.5% lower at $4.39.
Write to Nathalie Tadena at [email protected]