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US stocks fall as polls show divided Italian Parliament

European stocks originally swung higher on the news that the Democratic Party had a large lead.

Berlusconi votes italyEnlarge
Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi casts his ballot at a polling station on February 24, 2013 in Milan. Italians fed up with austerity went to the polls on Sunday in elections where the centre-left is the favourite, as Europe held its breath for signs of fresh instability in the eurozone's third largest economy. (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The US stock market took a hit on Monday after fears that a divided Italian parliament would derail the country's efforts at stabilizing the European Union's single currency.

Reuters reports that the Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.58 points to 13,981.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 2.30 points to 1,513.30. But the Nasdaq Composite rose 3.03 points to 3,164.85.

According to the Wall Street Journal, instant polls available after the 3 pm close of voting showed the center-left Democratic Party winning a majority in the lower house of Parliament.

The party, led by Pier Luigi Bersani, was predicted to have a slight lead in the most recent pre-election polls.

Italy's FTSE-Mib jumped by 3.5 percent to 16,795 points at the news that the center-left party had a large lead over Silvio Berlusconi's party, reports AFP.

Investors believed that Bersani's Democratic Party would continue to pay down Italy's debt, Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York told Reuters.

"What we don't want to hear is a renewed fear about a euro- zone fracture," he said.

New results released shortly after, based on an early count of actual votes, showed Berlusconi's center-right coalition leading in the Senate.

If those results hold, the Parliament will be divided and could spark another election as early as this summer, reports the Wall Street Journal.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/130225/us-stocks-fall-polls-show-divided-italian-parliament