U.S. Markets

European shares retreat as Italy, Brexit fears weigh

MILAN (Reuters) - European shares fell on Tuesday, failing to benefit from a more positive mood on Wall Street as anti-euro rhetoric from a senior Italian lawmaker spooked investors also concerned about the fate of Britain’s negotiations to leave the EU.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

The benchmark STOXX 50E .STOXX50E ended the day down 0.7 percent with losses across sectors and bourses.

Italy’s 10-year bond yield soared to 4-1/2 year highs after an Italian lawmaker said most of the country’s problems would be solved by ditching the euro before reassuring comments from the government bought calm to a jittery market.

Italian banks .FTIT8300, whose large government bond holdings make them sensitive to political stress, fell as much as four percent but limited losses to 1.2 percent at the close.

Overall, euro zone banks .SX7P also took a hit but ended the day down a limited 0.6 percent.

“We expect months of scrutiny on the budget by Italian institutions, the European Commission and rating agencies,” said Matteo Ramenghi, CIO for Italy at UBS Global Wealth Management.

“Investors are likely to retain a cautious approach until further visibility on fiscal policy emerges,” he added.

But Italy was not the only concern investors had to face.

“People are also looking at Brexit”, said ABR managing director Harry Scheper, noting fears that a no-deal Brexit would take its toll on the continent’s economy.

The pound slid to a three-week low during the session as a conflict over UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan escalated, with deep divisions on show at the ruling Conservative Party’s conference.

Among European heavyweight companies, Philips PHG.AS dropped 3.6 percent after a Credit Suisse downgrade while Siemens SIEGn.DE fell 2.6 percent after a downgrade from HSBC.

Within the pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX shares in Royal Mail RMG.L were the worst performers and hit an all-time low, down 8.9 percent as brokers cut their price targets on the stock following a surprise profit warning on Monday.

Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Julien Ponthus, Editing by William Maclean and Ed Osmond