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Italian party asks for more time to form govt.

17 May 2018

Italy, along with Greece, has taken the brunt of the Mediterranean migrant crisis and has been credited with saving Europe's honour for its efforts to save lives at sea.

Italy's two anti-system parties appeared on the verge of clinching a deal to form a coalition government, rattling markets with radical ideas to free up billions of euros for tax cuts and welfare.

The two parties held a sixth day of negotiations aimed at creating a government and ending 10 weeks of political stalemate following an inconclusive election on March 4.

Salvini and Di Maio have not denied the authenticity of the document, but suggest it is an older version, with the latter making it clear that he wants to reverse the process of European integration to the pre-Maastricht Treaty-era and end EU-wide financial policy alignment. The top two finishers - the upstart anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the nationalist League party - have been inching this week toward an alliance that would have a razor-thin majority in Italy's parliament.

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As the likelihood of a populist government in Italy increases, the yield on Italian government bonds - a measure of investor confidence in the country - has climbed.

Italian stocks tumbled 2.3 per cent while Italy's 10-year bond yield jumped almost 19 basis points to 2.13 per cent. In recent days, Mr Salvini has been trying to push Mr Di Maio towards a more confrontational attitude with regard to Brussels on everything from the single currency to budget rules and migration policy.

A 39-page document agreed to Wednesday night drops the writeoff demand but says that euro-area government bonds already purchased by the European Central Bank under quantitative easing should not count towards the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, according to the Five Star official. "But during the campaign, neither party was shy about criticizing the European Union, and their supporters do not expect them to back down".

Berlusconi has refused to govern with the 5-Stars, who he regards as "more risky than communists". Di Maio has pledged to guarantee a minimum income to the unemployed. While the two parties specified they had removed the section on possibly opting out of the euro, they made no mention about the suggestion the European Central Bank should write off this debt.

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"I don't see any signs that member states would like to change the rules at least any time soon or give exemptions to any member state", said Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen on Tuesday.

This would be the first time the 5-Star Movement has had a government role higher than the municipal level.

"For small caps, they are not exposed to a lot of the risks that larger caps are facing", McMillan said.

Back in the currency markets, sterling rallied against both the dollar and the euro after a United Kingdom newspaper reported that Prime Minister Theresa May would tell Brussels that Britain was prepared to stay in the European Union's customs union after a transitional arrangement beyond 2021.

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A leaked draft policy paper on the two parties' plans for government showed discussions about leaving the euro.

Italian party asks for more time to form govt.