Stocks tumble as Italian crisis knocks global sentiment

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Equity futures signaled a stronger open on Wall Street, after Tuesday's harsh session which saw all three US indexes lose between 0.5-1.2 per cent, led by financial sector stocks. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 1.5 per cent to 30,034.07 and the Shanghai Composite index fell 1.6 per cent to 3,072.76.

Stocks in the United States were also down, with the S&P 500 index dropping 31.47 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,689.86 and the Dow Jones industrial average losing 391.64 points, or 1.6 percent, to 24,361.45.

"The Italian turmoil is reminiscent of the Greek debt issue (in 2011/12) that remains fresh in investors' memory, though in its current form, the concern likely remains on the threat to the (European) single currency", said IG Market's Pan Jingyi. The S&P 500 index fell 31 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,689. Mattarella has tasked former economist Carlo Cottarelli with forming a caretaker government, but it is unlikely to win necessary approval from the Italian parliament.

Italy has been unable to assemble a coalition government since inconclusive elections in March, which saw the rise of anti-establishment parties that support leaving the euro.

The political crisis in Rome, and the threat to the euro project it represents, triggered a rush to traditional safe havens like US debt, pulling down USA 10-year Treasury yields and in turn spurring losses for US banks.

Short-dated Italian bond yields IT2YT=RR - a sensitive gauge of political risk - soared 1.5 percentage points from Monday to their highest since 2013 in their biggest move in almost 26 years.

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Volume on US exchanges was 7.58 billion shares, compared to the 6.58 billion average over the last 20 trading days. Shares fell in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Worries over geopolitics look set to hit Asia after sweeping through Europe and also the U.S.at the start of the week".

The statement added: "This circumstance, also considering market tensions, has compelled him to wait for further developments". Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose in price to yield 2.786 percent, from 2.935 percent late on Friday.

Oil struggled under pressure from expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation would pump more oil to counter potential supply shortfalls from Venezuela and Iran, even as USA output has surged in recent years.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil fell 25 cents to $66.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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