European shares were set to open sharply lower on Friday, heading for their worst weekly loss since late November on an escalating crisis hitting Spain’s sovereign debt and its banks, downgraded en masse by Moody’s overnight.

Banco Santander and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s biggest lenders, were cut three levels by Moody’s investors service, which cited a recession and mounting loan losses in downgrading 16 of the nation’s banks.

Greece’s credit rating was downgraded one level by Fitch Ratings on concerns the country won’t be able to muster the political support needed to sustain its membership in the euro area as leaders began campaigning ahead of the second national vote in six weeks.

Greece was cut to CCC from B-, according to an e-mailed statement late yesterday in London. The country’s ceiling was revised to B-, Fitch said in the statement.

Bankers banker’s led by Morgan Stanley may split about $176 million for managing Facebook’s initial public offering after accepting a lower-than-average fee for their work.

The underwriters are collecting about 1.1 % of the $16 billion Facebook raised in its IPO yesterday, according to two people in the know, who declined to be identified because the rate hasn’t been disclosed. The company hired 33 investment banks for the offering, with Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs leading the sale.

Posted by Mike Moloney | Account Executive