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Spanish stock market sustains historical loss on Brexit news

Spain’s risk premium rises on Friday while experts warn about the mid-term effects of Leave

Acting PM Mariano Rajoy at a press conference on Friday.
Acting PM Mariano Rajoy at a press conference on Friday. EFE

The Ibex sustained the greatest losses of its entire 24-year history on Friday, when news of a Brexit victory pushed Spain’s benchmark stock market index down 12.35% at closing time.

The Friday tumble breaks the prior record for daily losses, which was set in October 2008 following news of the Lehman Brothers debacle. On that day, the Ibex retreated 9.14%.

Gibraltar votes to remain

The vast majority of Gibraltarians voted to remain in the European Union. Remain won with 95.91% of the vote, and turnout was 83.53% among the 24,117 residents with a right to vote.

The result had been widely expected. The territory’s economy benefits from EU membership while allowing for fiscal benefits. Local politicians had campaigned aggressively against a Brexit.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is facing a general election this Sunday, came out to issue “a message of calm to the markets” shortly after David Cameron announced his plan to step down over the referendum results.

Rajoy said that the Spanish financial system “has solid conditions” to face the market turbulence spreading across the world.

He added that Spain “makes a note with sadness” of the referendum results.

Meanwhile, Spain’s risk premium – the gap between Spanish and German 10-year borrowing costs – grew over 50 basis points to reach 190 points, its highest level since February 2014.

Bank losses

Spain’s major banks suffered serious setbacks on Friday morning, with Santander shedding 25% of its value and Bankia losing 26%.

Santander has a major presence in Britain. On Friday, the Santander UK website issued a note to its clients to reassure them that “nothing has changed for Santander UK. There are no changes to the way we serve you and we won’t make any changes to our products and services as a result of the referendum without notifying you first.”

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Mid-term effects

Experts said that in the short and mid-term, this market turbulence will hurt the pound, thus reducing British citizens’ purchasing power. This in turn could have an impact on Spanish tourism, since Britain is the first exporter of tourists to Spain.

Spain’s housing market could also suffer, with fewer UK citizens investing in holiday homes on the coast.

As for Spaniards living in the UK – a community of around 200,000 people – they will likely need to apply for work permits in order to legally remain on British territory.

Corporate interests

Spanish corporate investment in Britain (€62.1 billion in 2014) is practically twice that of British investment in Spain (€36.6 billion). The 340 Spanish companies with a British presence reported profits of €6.3 billion and provided 75,217 jobs, while the 437 British companies operating in Spain reported profits of €928 million and employed 98,019 people, according to the Secretary of State for Trade.

Spanish firms in Britain include Santander, Sabadell, Ferrovial, Telefónica and Iberdrola; some of the leading British companies in Spain are Vodafone, IAG, Altadis, BP and GlaxoSmithKline.

English version by Susana Urra.

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