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Global Markets: Italian stocks slide, dollar powers on to new 2018 high

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By Tommy Wilkes

(Reuters) - Italian stocks on Wednesday after reports that the two parties seeking to form Italy's next government might seek debt forgiveness, while the dollar ignored a pull-back in U.S. bond yields and rallied to a new 2018 high.

Asian markets had earlier dipped after abruptly called off talks with Seoul, throwing a U.S.-North Korean summit into doubt, but that failed to rattle European stocks.

Markets were also unfazed by Italian politics and the bigger focus was a rocketing dollar and rising U.S. borrowing costs, which have spooked investors in recent weeks and intensifed concern about damage to global demand, squeezing emerging markets.

The dollar resumed its rally in European trading and reached a high for the year. That gain left the euro below $1.18, its lowest since Dec. 19.

However, with 10-year Treasury yields slipping back below 7-year highs reached earlier this week, most European stock markets traded close to flat.

The exception was Reports suggested the 5-Star and League parties, trying to form a government after inconclusive March 4 elections, had written a draft coalition deal asking for debt forgiveness from the European Central (ECB), frightening investors in the euro zone's third-largest economy.

"The proposal is surreal. Pretending the unilateral cancellation of 250 billion euros of debt bought by the ECB as part of the QE programme... would be absurd," said.

"Even if unfeasible, the tone of the debate bolsters expectations there will be a stormy relationship with and a further relaxation of financial discipline," he said.

Italian stocks fell more than 1.5 percent while the pan-European slipped 0.12 percent.

Euro zone banks an even bigger 1.71 percent, extending losses despite a saying the request for cancellation of the debt was not in the official draft of the government programme.

The difference in Italian 10-year government borrowing costs over German rose sharply to the highest since late March.

The equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, slipped into negative territory.

U.S. stock futures traded down 1.25 percent.

TREASURY YIELDS PAUSE

North Korea's cancellation of a June 12 summit in added to geopolitical worries for financial markets, given it could see tensions on the flare again and damage U.S.-efforts to resolve an ongoing trade dispute.

"This will weigh on the Korean reconstruction beneficiaries that have had a strong run on peace and even reunification hopes recently," analysts wrote in a note.

"The broader risk for the region if talks do break down is that Trump no longer feels the need to keep on side and could escalate trade tensions again."

Elsewhere, the 10-year yield slipped to 3.057 percent.

Strong U.S. and factory data on Tuesday pushed the U.S. 10-year yield as high as 3.095 percent, its highest since July 2011, raising worries about higher borrowing costs for companies worldwide.

The U.S. currency has enjoyed a blistering rally in recent weeks as investors focus on the Federal Reserve raising interest rates while central banks elsewhere push back policy tightening.

Rising U.S. borrowing costs and a stronger dollar hit hardest in emerging markets, where investors are withdrawing money - particularly from countries with large deficits and big dollar funding needs.

and have been at the centre of the sell-off, their weakness compounded by political frictions.

The Turkish lira had been testing record lows against both the dollar and the euro but clawed higher after officials from the central said they would be prepared to act to halt the rout.

Tayyip Erdogan's comments that he plans to take greater control of the economy have hammered the lira this week.

The Indonesian rupiah hit a 2-1/2-year low while the Malaysian ringgit touched a four-month low overnight.

In commodities markets, gold rebounded slightly after hitting a 4-1/2-month low the previous day on a strong dollar.

declined but remained near recent highs amid concerns that U.S. sanctions on may restrict crude exports from a

For Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets open a window on Eikon by pressing F9 and type in 'Live Markets' in the

(Additional reporting by in SHANGHAI, Tomo Uetake in TOKYO, in SYDNEY, in and Dhara Ranasinghe in LONDON; Editing by Louise Ireland)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 16:12 IST
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