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ECONOMY

Stockholm stock market in shaky opening

As expected the Stockholm stock exchange opened sharply down on Monday although after an hour's trading had rebounded into positive territory.

Stockholm stock market in shaky opening

When trading opened on Monday morning the OMXS index plunged 2-4 percent as investors struggled to get a grasp on the weekend’s developments in global finance.

The widely tipped crash did not materialise in reality however and Stockholm largely stayed in line with the developments on the European and Asian markets.

The major banks had a rough ride initially with SEB down 4.6 percent, Swedbank down 3.5 percent and Handelsbanken also down.

Truck maker Scania and mining firm Boliden also fell initially, while the former recovered ground fairly quickly.

On Monday morning the minister for finance, Anders Borg, told Sveriges Television (SVT) that it is difficult to predict how Sweden will be affected by the turbulent world economy.

“In many ways, Sweden has a better starting point. We have a stronger currency and our banks are less vulnerable than in many other countries. But we are a small economy and a messy market can reflect upon our situation here as well,” Borg told SVT.

SEB chief economist Robert Bergqvist meanwhile expressed hope that the announcement by the European Central Bank on Sunday that they will purchase eurozone bonds and the G7 finance ministers pledge to cooperate will help to achieve stability.

“But there are still a number of underlying problems, and I think that we are going to have tough stock market conditions for the remainder of the week and the autumn,” he said.

Bergqvist concluded that there is no miracle cure to prescribe to ease the crisis, and there is very little political-economic scope for politicians to act with interest rates near zero and state budgets already stretched.

“As the indications are at the moment I am concerned that we are on our way into a new global recession. And what is worrying me is that there are no tools to use in order to boost growth again,” he said.

Cecilia Hermansson at SEB also questioned whether the steps taken at the weekend to encourage stability following the unprecedented lowering of the US credit rating were sufficient.

“There is a lot of insecurity and concern which is dictating the stock markets at the moment. But it was good news that decision-makers showed that they are ready to try to create stability,” she said.

Asian markets fell across the board on Monday with the Tokyo Nikkei 225 index down 2.2 percent, Seoul’s Kospi index down 3.8 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 4.0 percent.

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ECONOMY

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.

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