The broader markets extended their losses in mid-day trading on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) falling as much as 314.39 points, or 2.8%, to 10,981.42.
While equities tumbled, gold futures pared their losses. The COMEX December contract rebounded from an intra-day low of $1,825.50 to $1,867.50 as of 12:05pm ET.
In currencies, the euro came under significant pressure against the dollar, as it plunged over 200 basis points to 1.3650 – its lowest level since late February of this year.
The weakness in U.S. stock markets coincided with a report from Bloomberg that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is “preparing plans to shore up German banks in the event that Greece fails to meet the terms of its aid package and defaults,” according to three coalition officials.
The report went on to say that “The emergency plan involves measures to help banks and insurers that face a possible 50 percent loss on their Greek bonds if the next tranche of Greece’s bailout is withheld, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are being held in private. The successor to the German government’s bank-rescue fund introduced in 2008 might be enrolled to help recapitalize the banks, one of the people said.”
Other noteworthy items from the report included:
“The existence of a “Plan B” underscores German concerns that Greece’s failure to stick to budget-cutting targets threatens European efforts to tame the debt crisis rattling the euro. German lawmakers stepped up their criticism of Greece this week, threatening to withhold aid unless it meets the terms of its austerity package, after an international mission to Athens suspended its report on the country’s progress.”
“The German government is awaiting the results of the Greek progress report and will decide what course of action then, a government spokesman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.”
“Merkel, who is due to discuss the crisis with European Commission President Jose Barroso in Berlin on Sept. 12, is battling to secure a majority among her coalition bloc to push an overhaul of the European Financial Stability Facility through the lower house of parliament on Sept. 29. The changes would give the EFSF the power to buy bonds in the secondary market, raising German guarantees to 211 billion euros ($290 billion) from 123 billion euros.”