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European shares lower as pressure builds on Italian banks

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN (Reuters) – European shares fell on Tuesday as anti-euro rhetoric from a senior Italian lawmaker spooked investors, sparking a sell-off in the country’s sovereign bonds and sending shares in their banks to a 19-month low.

Italian banks (FTIT8300), whose large government bond holdings makes them sensitive to political stress, fell as much as four percent after the head of the lower house’s budget committee said Italy would be better off out of the euro zone.

Banks (SX7P) were the biggest sectoral fallers in Europe, helping drag the pan-European STOXX 600 (STOXX) index down 0.4 percent by 0807 GMT after hitting its lowest lowest level in more than two weeks. Germany’s DAX (GDAXI) fell 0.5 percent.

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