NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 04/24/12 -- European financial stocks have surprised investors with gains in the first quarter but have seen a sharp pull back recently, as recent euro-zone economic data and political uncertainty in France and Holland have accentuated concerns about the region's current financial crisis. The iShares MSCI Europe Financials Sector Index Fund (EUFN) -- which is designed to measure the combined equity market performance of the financial sector of developed market countries in Europe -- is down over 11 percent this month. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Foreign Banking Industry and provides equity research on National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG) and Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE).
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The euro zone's April preliminary purchasing managers' index rating fell to 47.4 from 49.1 in March. This reading has pointed to a faster rate of economic contraction across the region than many analysts had expected. These numbers compacted with the political problems in France and Holland have economists worried that Europe's economy will be in a recession until the second half of 2012.
"Europe is driving the boat right now, and there's no reason to think that investor anxiety will dissipate any time soon," said Joe Cogan, vice president of international equities at Topeka Capital Markets in New York. "In addition, the market has been due for a pullback, and I think we could see another 2 to 3 percent of downside before investors come back in the market."
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National Bank of Greece SA (the Bank) is a Greece-based financial institution. It offers a range of integrated financial services, including corporate and investment banking, retail banking (including mortgage lending), leasing, stock brokerage, asset management and venture capital, insurance, real estate and consulting services.
Bank of Ireland and its subsidiaries provide a range of banking and other financial services. The Company operates in five segments: Retail Ireland, Bank of Ireland Life, Retail UK, Corporate and Treasury and Group Centre. Group Centre includes capital management activities, Government guarantee fees and unallocated group support costs. Its subsidiaries include Bank of Ireland International Finance Limited, Bank of Ireland (I.O.M.) Limited, Bank of Ireland Life Holdings Limited, Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank, Bank of Ireland (UK) plc, First Rate Exchange Services Holdings Limited, ICS Building Society and Midasgrange Limited.
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