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90 seconds at 9 am: Italian stocks fall 5% and bond yields spike after comedians create electoral vacuum; Rabobank faces LIBOR rigging fine; France calls for ECB to join 'currency wars'
Here's my summary of the key news overnight in 90 seconds at 9 am, including news Italian stocks fell 5% and European stocks fell 3% as investors digested the shock news of Italy's election results.
The once-disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and comedian Beppe Grillo's Internet-based Five Star Movement won a combined 55% of the vote. Voters rejected the outgoing Mario Monti-led government's austerity drive, but failed to deliver a government able to govern. Grillo and Berlusconi both want Italy to leave the Euro and Grillo has called on Italy to default on its debts. Neither want fresh elections and Grillo has refused to form a coalition with either the centre left or centre right parties.
Italian bond yields spiked 35 basis points as investors worried about what the election results would mean for Europe's austerity-driven strategy to stabilise its debt crisis.
However, US stocks were up around 0.7% in late trade after better than expected consumer confidence and home purchases data boosted confidence. Comments from US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to Congress also reassured stock investors that stimulus would not be removed any time soon. See more here on Bernanke's comments at Reuters.
Meanwhile, France's Industry Minister added more fuel to the debate over currency manipulation by calling on the European Central Bank to 'do its job' and join the currency wars to depress the euro and help exporters. See more here at Bloomberg.
Also, Bloomberg reported Rabobank is about to be fined US$440 million by US and UK authorities over LIBOR rate rigging. Barclays, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland have already been fined more than US$2.5 billion for manipulating the London Interbank Offer Rate, which is the basis for trillions of dollars of loan contracts with companies, other banks, governments and consumers.
Rabobank would be the first bank operating in a significant way in New Zealand to be fined for LIBOR rate rigging.
The New Zealand dollar was down to 82.6 USc in morning trade and the Trade Weighted Index was down at 75.6, a one month low, as investors nervous about the European debt outlook took riskier bets off the table.