European markets begin week lower amid fears over Greece

Profit-taking by investors also blamed for weak equity markets

European markets begin week lower amid fears over Greece

Milan, November 26 - Milan's stock exchange closed lower on Monday, following a trend across Europe as investors took some profits earned in last week's market gains. Analysts warned that there were also concerns in equity markets over the outcome of discussions by European finance ministers that continued Monday evening over release of the next tranche of aid for troubled Greece. In Milan, the FTSE Mib index slipped by 0.74% in trading to close the session at 15,520 points. In positive news, the spread between Italy's 10-year bond and its German counterpart closed the day at a relatively modest 334 basis points, with a yield of 4.75% on the Italian paper. The spread is a good indicator of investor confidence in the Italian economy in relation to the relative strength of powerhouse Germany. Monday's spread between Spanish and German bonds stood at 420 basis points, with a yield on the Spanish benchmark bond of 5.62%. Meanwhile, hopes were high that Monday's meetings - the third and final scheduled among Eurogroup finance ministers - could produce a definitive agreement on Greece, allowing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to put the finishing touches on a new package of aid for Greece. The meeting in Brussels aims to reduce interest rates on bilateral loans granted to Greece and to sell a portion of European Central Bank (ECB) profits made on Greek bonds. It also aims to offset Greek debt with the use of funds from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). In other markets, Spain's Ibex 35 index lost 0.44% to close at 7,874.80 points while on the London Stock Exchange, the FTSE-100 index fell by 0.56% to end trading at 5,786.72 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 0.79% to end the day at 3,500.94 points and Frankfurt's Dax index fell to 7,292.03 points after losing 0.23% on the day.

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