European stocks fall as bank allegations, coronavirus weigh on sentiment; banks down 4%

European stocks retreated Monday as allegations surrounding bank dealings and rising coronavirus infections weigh on market sentiment around the world.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 2% in early trade, with banks plummeting 4.5% and travel stocks falling 4.8% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.

As well as the latest coronavirus developments, investors in Europe will be keeping a close eye on bank shares Monday following allegations this weekend that some have been dealing with suspicious funds.

In Asia, Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered and HSBC tumbled on Monday following reports that they allegedly moved large sums of suspicious funds. By Monday afternoon, shares of Standard Chartered tumbled 2.69% and HSBC fell 2.91%. Earlier in the trading day, shares of HSBC had fallen to a more than 25-year low, according to FactSet.

The moves came after the banks — among several global lenders — were identified in media reports as having allegedly moved suspicious funds over a period of nearly two decades, according to Reuters. The reports cited confidential documents submitted by banks to the U.S. government. HSBC said in a statement to CNBC, “We do not comment on suspicious activity reporting.” 

Standard Chartered, meanwhile, said in a statement: “The reality is that there will always be attempts to launder money and evade sanctions” and that it took its “responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously.”

Rising coronavirus cases remain in focus. The World Health Organization warned Friday that the coronavirus is “not going away,” noting that it’s still killing about 50,000 people a week. “That is not where we want to be,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said.

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Biggest movers

In terms of individual share price action, Germany’s United Internet plunged more than 23% in early trade after lowering its outlook, while Network International dropped 21% to extend a recent slide.

Rolls-Royce tumbled 10.7% after announcing plans to raise £2.5 billion ($3.24 billion) to strengthen its finances. British Airways parent IAG continued to fall, dropping another 9.8% Monday morning.

At the top of the European blue-chip index, Italy’s Diasorin added 3.2%.

— staff contributed to this market report.

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