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Blast fears sink Europe stocks

London, Nov. 20 (Reuters): European stocks sank and safe haven government debt prices rose today after two blasts which killed 25 in Istanbul raised fears of more sustained and frequent security shocks to global markets.

Gold and the Swiss franc, both seen as relatively risk free investments in times of uncertainty, firmed after the two explosions which devastated both the HSBC Bank headquarters and the British consulate. US stock index futures were down, indicating Wall Street was set to open lower. “The fear in the market is that terrorist attacks are going to increase,” said Peter Fertig, chief fixed income strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.

The blasts were the second such strike in Turkey in five days. Attacks on two Istanbul synagogues killed 25 at the weekend. “What’s new is so many blasts, so many attacks,” said John Calverley, chief economist and strategist at American Express Bank in London. “There is a concern that this is becoming something much more systemic, much more dangerous.” The Istanbul stock exchange was closed after the blasts and the Turkish lira was down 1.3 per cent at 1,479,000 to the dollar on the interbank market.

An eight-month rally in European markets has stalled over the past week on factors including a weak dollar, trade disputes and fears of an attack.

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