Barclays fall presages more trouble

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Britain's banks are likely to be further buffeted this week amid renewed fears that some institutions may need the help of a Bank of England rescue as the credit crunch bites.

Billions were wiped off financial shares on Friday with the biggest loser being Barclays, which shed nearly 6 per cent of its value by the close of play.

Traders have focused on Barclays ever since it was forced to dip into the central bank's overnight coffers in August, on both occasions explained away by technical rather than fundamental issues.

Barclays shares have also been discounted because of the bank's links to so-called SIV-lite products, which invest in high-risk mortgage-backed assets.

On Friday, Barclays' retail boss, Frits Seegers, sought to underline his confidence in the bank's position by spending £700,000 of his own cash on 127,000 shares.

Friday's other big loser was the Sir Fred Goodwin-led Royal Bank of Scotland, which saw its shares slump by nearly 5 per cent.