Italian bond spread rises, European markets dip

Milan stock exchange loses 0.6%

Italian bond spread rises, European markets dip

(ANSA) - Milan, July 31 - European markets were stable Tuesday, with most closing slightly below opening levels. The Milan's FTSE Mib index slipped 0.6% to 13,890 points, ending a run of four positive trading sessions in a row. Fiat's losses weighed heavily on the trading session. Stocks in the Fiat Group, which controls Chrysler, closed 4.4% down at 4 euros, recovering some ground after having slipped 6% at one stage during the day. Investors and analysts were disappointed by the Fiat Group's second quarter results released Tuesday, which showed lower profits than expected and increased losses from its European operations. Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the embattled stock reiterating that the company expected to make its 2012 targets. Meanwhile, banks on the Milan bourse were split on a shaky day for Italian bond spreads. UBI stock rose 4.05% and BPM was up 2.92%. Italy's banking giants, Intesa San Paolo and Unicredit, lost 2.18% and 2.12% respectively. Madrid led European market declines despite a rally in the morning. Madrid's Ibex 35 index closed down 1.31% at 6,713 points. London was next, with the FTSE-100 index sliding 1.02%. Paris's Cac 40 index closed 0.87% down, while Frankfurt's Dax index closed nearly flat, at 0.03%. The spread between Italian and German bonds closed at 480 basis points with the Italian 10 year bond yielding 6%. That represents a rise of almost 20 points during the day, as the spread opened at 460.5 basis points. The spread is a barometer of Italy's borrowing costs and an indicator of investor confidence in the country's ability to weather the eurozone crisis. The spread between Spanish bonds and the German benchmark closed at 546 basis points, with 10 year Spanish bonds yielding 6.74%. Italian Premier Mario Monti and French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday urged fast action on financial measures agreed to tackle the eurozone crisis by European leaders at a summit. The pair spoke after a Paris meeting Tuesday aimed at boosting confidence in the European economy and the single currency. European leaders agreed on a number of measures to combat the eurozone crisis at the June summit, including plans to allow EU rescue funds to be used to support the bonds of countries facing soaring borrowing costs. This mechanism, the so-called spread shield, was thrown in doubt after the governments of the Netherlands and Finland expressed reservations. Monti is on a European tour to promote greater harmony in efforts to protect the region's economy. The tour includes meetings in Finland with Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, and in Madrid with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Investors are expecting fresh action by policy makers, following a declaration from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi last week that he would do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro. Markets are now anxiously awaiting Thursday's meeting of the ECB to see what the central bank intends to do.

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