European Stocks Lower; Italian Political Crisis Weighs

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European Stocks Lower; Italian Political Crisis Weighs
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse 

Investing.com - European stock markets edged lower Thursday, weighed by Italian political uncertainty ahead of a key European Central Bank meeting.

By 04:10 AM ET (0810 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.5% lower, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.2%, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 0.4%.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told parliament on Thursday that he was going to see President Sergio Mattarella and inform him of his intentions after three coalition parties withdrew their support for his government.

The former ECB head is widely expected to resign, likely opening the way for early elections in October.

This political chaos resulted in the yield on the country’s 10-year note jumping as much as 19 basis points to 3.58%, its highest since late June, while the spread over equivalent German bonds , a common gauge of risk, rose to 232 basis points. The benchmark Italian stock index, the FTSE MIB , also slumped over 2%.

This comes ahead of the latest meeting of the European Central Bank , which is widely expected to result in the central bank’s first interest-rate hike since 2011.

The ECB will also unveil its new anti-fragmentation tool, a bond-buying instrument designed to contain debt-market jitters as borrowing costs are lifted. 

European markets had opened with a positive tone after Russia started sending gas through its biggest pipeline to Europe after a 10-day maintenance period, according to a spokesperson for the pipeline operator Nord Stream.

Restoring flows to the levels requested will take some time, Nord Stream said, but the resumption is set to ease concerns about an energy crisis on the continent.

In corporate news, SAP (ETR: SAPG ) stock fell 2.6% after the German business software group trimmed its profit outlook for the year due to the war in Ukraine, while ABB (SIX: ABBN ) stock climbed 0.5% after the Swiss robotics company reported a jump in second-quarter orders despite facing supply chain constraints linked to strict COVID lockdowns in China.

Thales (EPA: TCFP ) stock fell 1.8% after the French defense and technology group announced that the halt of its Russian business weighed on the aerospace unit, which is expected to take a €70 million hit in 2022.

Oil prices fell Thursday for the second consecutive session after U.S. government data raised demand concerns at the world’s largest consumer during the peak summer driving season.

U.S. gasoline inventories rose 3.5 million barrels last week, according to Wednesday’s data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration , a much sharper increase than had been expected.

By 04:10 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 2.5% lower at $97.33 a barrel, while the Brent contract fell 2.2% to $104.53.

Additionally, gold futures fell 0.8% to $1,685.90/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.0182.

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