Milan falls as other European markets show gains Monday

Italian, German bond spread stable at 279 basis points

Milan falls as other European markets show gains Monday

Milan, July 29 - Milan's main financial market was weaker Monday than most of its European counterparts, as investors fretted on the eve of an important court ruling involving ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi which could affect the entire government. The FTSE-Mib slipped by 0.89% to close at 16,275 points and Italian banks lost ground during nervous trading. Tuesday, Italy's top appeals court, the Court of Cassation, will rule on a four-year prison sentence previously imposed on Berlusconi for tax fraud. If the Cassation upholds the verdict, the prison term and a five-year ban from holding public office, some lawmakers in Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party have threatened to pull out of the coalition government and sink it. They claim their leader is the victim of persecution by left-wing magistrates targeting him for political reasons. Markets were also pulled down by weakness in bank stocks, particularly Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) which fell by 4.64% amid serious legal problems. The European Union competition head in Brussels is demanding that MPS be subjected to tougher penalties before it approves a multi-billion-euro state bailout of Italy’s third-biggest bank. Also weak were Bpm, down 5.87%; UBI, down 3.94% and Mediobanca, which lost 3.72%. Meanwhile, the spread between Italy's 10-year bond and its German counterpart was stable at 279 basis points, up slightly from last Friday's close of 274 basis points. The yield on Italian 10-year paper closed at 4.46%, little changed from last Friday's closing yield of 4.4%. The spread between lending rates in the two countries is seen as an indication of investor faith in the Italian economy and its ability to cope with a lingering recession. On other European markets, Frankfurt's DAX rose by 0.17% on the day, closing at 8,259.03 points, while both Paris's CAC 40 and London's FTSE 100 were essentially unchanged from last Friday. Paris closed at 3,968.91 points, and London ended trading at 6,560.25. Spain's IBEX 35 climbed by 0.27% to close at 8,376.10 points.

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