A piecemeal ban on short-selling of financial stocks in Europe sparked a rush of alternative proposals from countries and regulators Friday, while stronger bank shares pulled Europe’s stocks higher.
After a week of wild swings on European markets on rumors about the health and funding needs of indebted governments and some of their major banks, France, Italy, Spain and Belgium imposed short-selling bans, which varied according to country.
Britain, the Netherlands and Austria said they saw no need for action, while Germany said it would instead push for a Europe-wide ban on so-called naked short-selling.
The European Commission said a European framework would be more effective, and the chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority urged policy makers to adopt a plan for bloc-wide rules on short selling “as quickly as possible.”
Short-selling is the process through which an investor borrows shares and sells them on the expectation their price will fall and they can be bought back at a lower price.
In a naked short sale, the investor has not borrowed the share, but still bets on a drop in the share price.
Market players said the ban did not tackle the root causes of investors’ concerns — joined-up, long-term fiscal policy in the euro zone – and pointed out that nervous mutual funds were currently behind the sell-off.