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(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s largest banks, led declines among European lenders after the country’s central bank unexpectedly abolished its franc-euro ceiling. The franc surged.
UBS shares dropped 9.5 percent, falling as much as 11.3 percent in Zurich at 10:42 a.m., the most since 2009, while Credit Suisse shares lost as much as 12 percent. Julius Baer Group Ltd. slumped as much as 9.5 percent. The Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index rose 0.3 percent.
The Swiss National Bank, led by Thomas Jordan, said in a statement today that it decided to give up the minimum exchange rate of 1.20 francs per euro, ending a three year-old policy that helped protect the country’s economy from investors piling into the currency. The franc strengthened versus the euro after the decision, while also surging against the dollar.
Before today’s decision, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a note that UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, would be among lenders benefiting from an appreciating dollar.
The SNB said last month it will start charging 0.25 percent on sight deposit account balances in excess of a pre-determined threshold to ease the pressure on the Swiss franc. UBS and Credit Suisse said at the time the decision doesn’t have any immediate effect on them.
In today’s decision, the central bank also lowered the interest rate on sight deposit account balances that exceed a given exemption threshold to minus 0.75 percent from minus 0.25 percent and moved the target range for the three-month Libor to between minus 1.25 percent and minus 0.25 percent from minus 0.75 percent to 0.25 percent, according to the statement.
--With assistance from Elena Logutenkova in Zurich.
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