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Banks pounded in Monday trading as Brexit fears grow

Insurers, U.K. banks, among those to feel the worst impact, analysts say.

U.K. banks continue to face pressure in the wake of the country's shocking Brexit vote, and Monday morning, banking sector stocks around the world plunged again.

In the U.K., the FTSE closed down 2.5 percent, after earlier falling more than 3 percent. British bank stocks including RBS and Barclays plummeted, with each seeing shares drop more than 10 percent, down far more than market benchmarks. RBS and Barclays declined to comment.

"With political and economic uncertainty likely to be here to stay, we expect the coming weeks and month will see significant volatility in the share prices of U.K. financials and those with U.K. operations," analysts at Deutsche Bank wrote in a report released Monday.

market freefall
Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images

However, Deutsche Bank analysts are not predicting a recession in the U.K. Goldman Sachs economists, on the other hand, are.

"We now expect the economy [in the U.K.] to have a mild recession by early 2017," Goldman economists wrote in a Monday note, saying they're expecting further interest rate cuts (which, as it happens, would mark even worse news for hard-hit U.K. banks dependent on a rate hike to bolster net interest income).

Big banks won't be the only ones to feel the pain on rate cuts. Goldman equity analysts pointed out that "macro sensitive life insurers" face as much as a 15 percent downside in the market, attributable to falling interest rates and declining equity markets.

Similar to the pressure U.K. companies will face, American financial services companies will encounter comparable headaches, said Erik Oja, U.S. banks analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"Interest rates will likely stay lower, for longer," Oja said Monday morning on CNBC.

U.S. banks also fell Monday morning, with losses for some stocks hitting the 4 to 5 percent range in the first few hours of trading. However, some analysts have a less dour outlook for American banks' shares than for their counterparts in the U.K. and EU.

"Direct exposure to the U.K. is minimal for the U.S. banks," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. "We estimate a 5 percent [to] 12 percent hit to our bank estimates assuming no more rate hikes for the rest of this year or next and additional downside risk for money centers if capital markets activity is weaker than expected on top of that."

Analyst Dick Bove of Rafferty Capital Markets said the angst over banking stocks was overdone. Banks on the S&P 500 fell 3.4 percent in afternoon trading, led by People's United Financial, Fifth Third Bancorp and Regions Financial, all of which fell more than 6 percent.

Bove said banks remain profitable and well-capitalized, as evidenced by last month's stress tests that said banks could survive highly adverse financial conditions as bad or worse than the financial crisis. Banks posted $39.1 billion in profits for the fourth quarter, a decline of 1.9 percent from the same period in 2015, according to the FDIC.

"Banks in the United States in 2015 made more money than they ever made in the history of the industry, despite the fact that interest rates were historically low, the economy was not growing very rapidly and there were still lawsuits and fines being applied," Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty, said in an interview. "The basic theory was banks couldn't be managed because they were too big. The question people should be asking themselves is how did this industry make so much money if all these things were wrong.

— CNBC.com's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

Correction: This version corrects that Goldman now expects the U.K. to have a mild recession by early 2017 and that Dick Bove is vice president of equity research at Rafferty.