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Deutsche Bank shares sink 7% after report on withdrawals

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[NEW YORK] Deutsche Bank shares sank seven per cent on Thursday after a report said a handful of hedge funds had pulled money out amid worries over its financial strength.

The move to sell off the German giant's stock, which affected shares traded in Frankfurt, New York and elsewhere, also helped drag down the US markets overall.

Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that about 10 hedge funds that clear trades with Deutsche Bank withdrew some excess cash and derivatives holdings and moved the assets to other firms this week, according to an internal bank document it saw.

Bloomberg said the "vast majority" of the bank's clients have made no changes to their exposure at the bank.

And later the bank itself said the report gave an overly negative view of the situation, saying most of its clients understand its "stable financial position." But Deutsche Bank shares sank nevertheless.

Shares traded in Frankfurt were at 10.10 euros, down 7.2 per cent in after-hours trade, while New York-traded shares for the bank closed 6.7 per cent lower at US$11.48.

In a statement the bank sought to reassure investors.

"Our trading clients are amongst the world's most sophisticated investors," said a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman.

"We are confident that the vast majority of them have a full understanding of our stable financial position, the current macroeconomic environment, the litigation process in the US and the progress we are making with our strategy."

The Bloomberg report came as the US Department of Justice presses the German bank for a US$14 billion penalty over its sale of mortgage-backed securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Such a payout, analysts fear, could undermine the bank's capital foundations, already weakened in the European Union's economic woes.

Markets have been rife with talk that the bank could require a German government bailout, but Berlin and the bank have repeatedly rejected such speculation.

"The government is not preparing rescue plans. There are no grounds for such speculation," the German finance ministry said on Wednesday.