Scoreboard: Portuguese unease

European markets fell on fears the weakness in Portugal's banking system could spread, while the price of gold jumped on safe-haven inflows.

In US economic data new claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims) fell by 11,000 to 304,000 in the latest week. Wholesale sales rose by 0.7 per cent in May, in line with forecasts, while inventories rose by 0.5 per cent.

European shares fell on Thursday on continued concerns about the health of the Portuguese banking system. Portugal's PSI share index by fell 4.2 per cent after shares and bonds of Espirito Santo Financial Group, the chief shareholder in Banco Espirito Santo, were suspended over "material difficulties" at its parent firm ESI. There were also weaker banking stocks in Norway and Spain. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell by 1 per cent with the German Dax lower by 1.5 per cent while the UK FTSE lost 0.7 per cent. Australia's major miners also finished weaker in London trade with shares in BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both down by 1.4 per cent.

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