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Stocks drop after Cyprus bailout deal imposes unprecedented levy on bank savings

Stocks drop after Cyprus bailout deal imposes unprecedented levy on bank savings

18.3.2013 9:52

Euro-zone and the IMF reached an agreement on a EUR 10bn bailout deal for Cyprus on Saturday. At the same time officials decided that depositors in Cypriot banks will be hit with a one-off tax on their savings. The levy on bank deposits, amounting to 9.9% for deposits above EUR 100,000 and 6.75% for deposits below that level, is expected to raise EUR 5.8bn, thus allowing the bailout size to be lowered from an original figure of around EUR 17bn. Officials hoped that the contribution of depositors will make it easier to pass the bailout deal through parliaments in core eurozone countries like Germany. As part of the deal Cyprus will also raise its corporate tax rate to 12.5% from 10%, lowest among the euro zone, impose a levy on interest income and undergo a review of its anti-money-laundering legislation. The parliamentary vote in Cyprus to pass the bailout deal, including the tax levy, is scheduled for today afternoon. The vote is likely to be close, with parliament’s balanced political composition. There is a risk that public outrage over the measure might threaten passing of the Cyprus’s bailout, which would weigh on market sentiment as investors will brace for a new round in the eurozone debt crisis. On the other hand, if the tax levy is passed and imposed it might also add to risk-off sentiment amid concerns it will lead to capital flight in other eurozone periphery countries due to fears of similar treatment as in Cyprus in the future, threatening the stability of the financial system. All that said, with the ECB’s OMT pledge in place, large-scale market panic still seems unlikely. Driven by the news on Cyprus the euro weakened against the US dollar to its lowest level this year and is traded at 1.2950 as of 9:20 a.m. CET today. Japan’s Nikkei Index ended today's session down 2.7% and Hong Kong’s Hang-Seng closed down 2.0%. Euro Stoxx 50 Index dropped 1.8% as of 9:20 a.m. CET.

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