LONDON ( The Deal) -- European markets pursued different paths Monday morning, with the DAX in Frankfurt in positive mode for several hours before slipping into the red, while London and Paris stayed gloomy throughout.
Germany's investors were temporarily cheered by the news that the country's s trade surplus rose to 23.4 billion euros ($53 billion) in July, up 41% from last month, and the highest absolute level on record. But with the overall German economy still heavily weighed down by uncertainty over the Ukraine and the poor performance of the eurozone, the market was soon looking elsewhere for bad news.
It didn't have far to look. With Scotland's independence referendum now just 10 days away, a pall of uncertainty hangs over the other great engine of the European economy in 2014, just across the North Sea in Britain. The pound has slipped to its lowest level against the dollar since November, and the fall in the price of Brent Crude to below $100 a barrel -- hardly a great omen for the economy of an independent, oil producing Scotland -- hasn't done much to cheer investors.
Among the big fallers in London were the Edinburgh headquartered banks Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking (LYG) , which dropped 2.8% to 337.3 pence and 2.96 to 71.81 pence, respectively. Also down were Scottish insurer Standard Life, off 3.0% at 403.9 pence and Aberdeen Asset Management, off 0.06 at 442.10. If the financial services industry feels the need to migrate from Scotland to London, the future of Edinburgh as a financial center begins to look about as rosy as the future of North Sea oil.