All eyes will be on bank shares this morning, as stock markets reopen after the weekend.

The banking sector is going through a difficult time, and there are fears more problems may surface this week.

Sharp declines in banking shares in Europe on Friday renewed concerns the panic triggered by the collapse of two US banks and rushed takeover of Swiss giant Credit Suisse may not be easily contained.

Shares in Germany's Deutsche Bank fell by 14% at one point, with other lenders also seeing big losses.

London's FTSE 100 ended the day down nearly 1.3%, while stock markets in Germany and France dropped even more sharply.

But US fears did not materialise.

American markets up

After falling early in the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4% and the S&P 500 rose almost 0.6%, while the Nasdaq ended 0.3% higher.

The rise came despite declines in shares of big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

In Europe, the banks hit by a sell-off from worried investors included Germany's Commerzbank, which saw shares fall about 5%. France's Societe Generale ended down about 6% while in the UK, Standard Chartered was the biggest faller, down more than 6%.

Deutsche recovered from its steepest losses, but still closed more than 8% lower.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, told the BBC the drop in Deutsche Bank's share price, and a sharp jump in the cost of insuring against a possible default by the bank, was "indicative of a wider loss of confidence in the banking sector".

"There's a gathering fear that central banks may have overdone it with interest-rate increases, having left them too low for too long," he said.

Interest rates

Central banks slashed interest rates during the 2008 global financial crisis and again when the pandemic hit in 2020 as part of efforts to encourage economic growth.

But, over the past year or so, authorities have been raising rates sharply to try to tame soaring price increases.

These rate rises have hit the value of investments that banks keep some of their money in, and contributed to the bank failures in the US.

Share prices have fallen across the sector, as high-profile investors warn the collapses are symptoms of deeper problems in the system, with other pockets of distress yet to emerge.

Higher interest rates have also raised the possibility of recession, Mr Mould said, and if that happens "banks will generally find it pretty hard going".

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FTSE 100

The UK's top share index, the FTSE 100, was up 70 points at 7,475 shortly after opening this morning, following Friday’s 94-point loss.

Brent crude futures were 0.91.% higher at $75.67 a barrel.

Companies reporting today

  • First-quarter results: Carnival

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