Prague - Massive sell-outs on Friday sent the Prague Stock Exchange to the lowest point in the past four years as investors were intimidated by negative developments on the global markets.
The main PX index closed at 888.5 points, losing almost 15 percent in a single day and over 26 percent over the past week. All blue chips plummeted on Friday. The media group CETV was the biggest loser, writing off 29.25 percent of its value, followed by developer Orco and Erste Bank which lost 22.82 and 22.20 percent, respectively.
Four stocks were temporarily suspended from trading during the day, starting with used car dealer AAA which lost over 20 percent in the morning.
Shortly before 11am the exchange froze Erste Bank and insurance group VIG, two stocks primarily traded in Vienna. The Bloomberg quoted a Wiener Börse spokesman as saying that Erste, VIG and Raiffeisen would be suspended in Vienna until further notice.
Around noon, the Prague bourse froze the media group CME for 15 minutes after the stock lost more than 25 percent.
Erste was also losing over 25 percent in the afternoon after it was revealed that the Austrian finance group had invested more than EUR 300 million of its own capital in Icelandic banks. The assets have the form of a senior debt, which means they must be repaid prior to other debts.
Milan Lávička from Czech brokerage Atlantik FT said these assets represent only 3.5 percent of Erste's own capital, too little to put the bank's financial stability at a risk. "Besides, we expect that Erste will retrieve most of the sum," he added.
The Czech currency was depreciating at the end of the week, breaking through CZK 25/EUR for the first time in a long time.
Experts said foreign investors were getting rid of the crown despite the fact that the Czech National Bank did not cut interest rates.
The crown was trading at around CZK 24.9/EUR and CZK 18.5/USD at the very end of last week.