Update: Catalonia's readiness for statehood questioned as Spain makes it easier for companies to move base

Update 5.12pm Catalonia’s parliament will defy a Spanish court ban and go ahead with a debate that could lead to a declaration of independence, a regional government official said, as Spain’s worst political crisis in decades looked set to deepen.

Secessionist Catalan politicians have pledged to unilaterally declare independence at Monday’s session after staging an independence referendum last Sunday.

Madrid had banned the vote and sought to thwart it by sending in riot police who use batons and rubber bullets on voters.

Earlier:Spain's government has approved a decree making it easier for companies to move their official base out of Catalonia.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy

Meanwhile, Spain's main stock index is down slightly, with Catalan banks leading losses amid uncertainty over the region's independence bid.

The Ibex 35 index lost 0.9% to 10.126 points in Madrid by midday on Friday.

The biggest fallers were Banco Sabadell, the country's fifth-largest bank by assets, and Caixabank, Spain's third-largest.

Sabadell said it would move its base out of Catalonia, and executives at Caixabank are due to discuss a similar move.

Two Catalan companies, textiles maker Dogi and reprographics company Service Point Solutions, saw their shares surge after they said they had plans to relocate.

Cava-maker Freixenet, a household name, is also considering a move while telecommunications provider Eurona and biotech firm Oryzon already completed their relocations.

The moves are largely symbolic, with no immediate effect on jobs or company assets in Catalonia, but are seen as a blow to the Catalan government's secession hopes.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has requested to address the regional parliament next Tuesday amid growing challenges for his government to deliver on a pledge to declare independence.

The moves towards secession for Spain's northeastern region follows a disputed referendum last weekend.

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