Election concerns limit gains on Milan bourse
FTSE-Mib jumps by almost 4% during day, closes up just 0.73%25 February, 19:12
(ANSA) - Milan, February 25 - Financial markets in Italy, Europe and around the world were thrown into turmoil Monday by early results from the Italian general election vote.
With voting closed a few hours before markets themselves closed in Milan, early exit-poll results that first suggested a lead by the center left, then by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's center right, pushed investors' confidence up and down.
In the end, Milan's major stock index - which at one point in the afternoon jumped by almost 4% - ended the trading day only a bit higher than where it opened.
On the Milan Stock Exchange, the FTSE Mib gained 0.73% in trading, to end the day at 16,351 points.
At one point during trading, the index rose by 3.8% on news that a solid majority government of the center left could be possible.
A raft of banking stocks were suspended for excessive increases, rising on the hope that the center left would leave in place many of the economic and fiscal reforms imposed by the outgoing Premier Mario Monti.
Meanwhile, the Italian bond spread with the German benchmark also widened and narrowed during the day, again reflecting investor uncertainty.
At one point, it narrowed to as little as 260 basis points but ultimately ended trading much wider, closing at 293 basis points.
The yield on 10-year Treasury bonds rose to 4.48%.
That closing spread was above the so-called Monti threshold of 287 basis points, which Monti set as his goal in government because it was half of what the spread had been when Berlusconi was forced from office in November 2011.
His possible return has rattled markets because Berlusconi has pledged to undo many of the fiscal and economic reforms introduced by Monti and applauded by international financial institutions.
Berlusconi has also pledged to refund billions of euros in tax dollars collected in 2012, which would put the government's books in peril.
The uncertainty in the eurozone's third-largest economy also upset other financial markets around the world, including Wall Street.
In other European markets, several ended on a positive note although most gave back many of their gains made earlier in the day and based on preliminary election results.
Frankfurt's DAX gained by 1.45% to reach 7,773.19 points, while Paris's CAC 40 rose by 0.41% to close at 3,721.33 points, Spain's IBEX 35 closed trading 0.8% higher at 8,244.05 points while London's FTSE 100 ended the trading day 0.31% higher, closing at 6,355.37.