Crisis package cools Stockholm market nerves

The Stockholm stock exchange joined European markets in rebounding strongly on Monday on news of the €750 billion ($1 trillion) package to ease debt pressure on troubled euro area countries.

The Stockholm exchange shot up in early trading in a tangible display of relief after the deal secured by EU finance ministers in Brussels on Sunday. The index was up 5.1 percent by 9.30am and by 2pm had settled at a positive 6.1 percent. Financial stocks were amongst the stronger performers.

Sweden’s finance minister Anders Borg, in comments on the package of relief measures on Monday, claimed that last week’s turbulence could have been significantly worse.

“In hindsight you could say that it is an advantage that it was not perceived to be as serious as it in fact was,” Borg said in a press conference.

Nowhere was the relief more apparent than in Athens with the exchange up 8 percent by 10am and financial stocks up almost 13 percent. Market rates also fell back after weeks of inflated figures amid market concern that the Greece debt crisis could spread around the Mediterranean.

The mood was similar at other European exchanges, with stocks on the Frankfurt, London and Paris exchanges up by 2 to 6 percent in initial trading.

In Stockholm, large banks spurred the momentum. with Swedbank up 8.3 percent to 71.35 kronor ($9.53), SEB 8.4 percent to 43.90 kronor, and Nordea 7.1 percent to 64.50 kronor in early trading.

Raw materials also gained in early morning trading with mining company Lundin Mining up 9.5 percent to 32.30 kronor, and oil firm Alliance Oil up by 8.1 percent to 107 kronor.

But Swedish market commentators warned against over-confidence.

“We are seeing gains in the stock markets and we are reducing rate spreads, but the crisis is not over thanks to that, this is important to emphasise,” said Cecilia Hermansson at Swedbank.

Many problems remain to be resolved, Hermansson argued.

“If all national parliaments first need to agree, and then France and Germany negotiate, it will take time to solve every crisis. We have to have institutions which can quickly provide support when it is needed,” she said.

On arrival in Brussels on Sunday Anders Borg emphasised that the debt crisis that brought down stock markets worldwide last week was a “euro area problem”. But while accepting that Swedish taxpayers were unwilling to pay for Greek problems, he argued that Sweden had a role, and a self-interest, in helping to solve the problems.

The euro provided a further indicator on Monday that the relief package has had the desired effect in calming investors’ nerves, climbing as high as $1.3095, up from the 14-month low of $1.2523 it hit late last week.

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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.