Investors worry that Portugal could be the new Greece

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The Portuguese national flag in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport

As I survey the Reuters terminal here in the ITV newsroom – a feed of markets data from around the world - at first glance it looks pretty grim: every single market in Europe is down.

Investors have been selling off shares as news filtered in from Portugal this morning that the government is on the brink of collapse, putting its bailout at risk.

The fear is Portugal could be the next Greece, triggering market turmoil throughout the eurozone and beyond. Portugal’s own market is down about 5.5 per cent.

But look more closely and shares outside Lisbon have actually held up pretty well, all things considered.

Rome is down 1.3 per cent, Paris down 1.4 per cent and Frankfurt about the same. Here in London the FTSE 100 index is down about 1.5 per cent.

This is a far more subdued reaction to political turmoil than we have seen in the past in Europe and suggests that investors still believe the president of the European Central Bank’s promise last year to do “whatever it takes” to calm any turmoil in the markets.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that everyone I speak to who works in the markets thinks there is likely to be a test of this resolve from the authorities this summer.

Perhaps Portugal’s plight will get worse, perhaps Greece will fall out with the bailout authorities who are imposing austerity. Either way, Europe’s troubles haven’t gone away.