EUROPEAN shares and Italian bonds edged lower today as political turmoil in Italy weighed on confidence, but moves were subdued as investors waited for German confidence data later and the US Federal Reserve's end-of-year meeting.
Following some disappointing euro zone data this month, the ZEW survey of German business sentiment will be released this morning, with investors hoping for signs of a pick-up in confidence.
Markets were rattled yesterday by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's announcement he would step down early, and the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 share index dipped 0.1pc as trading resumed with concern continuing to weigh.
"There's no doubt Monti's resignation raised some concerns," said Katsunori Kitakura, associate general manager of market making at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
The other main focus for investors is the Federal Reserve meeting today.. It is expected to extend its asset purchase scheme and commit to buy $45 billion of US debt per month.
On the bond market, German Bund futures opened slightly stronger, with focus for the session likely to be back on Italian politics. Bund futures were 10 ticks higher at 145.71 while Italian bonds continued to hurt, with yields up 7 basis points to 4.88 percent.
Late last night, Monti had played down market fears over his decision to resign, saying there was no danger of a vacuum ahead of an election in the spring.
The comments helped the euro find some support, as it hovered above a two-week low at $1.2945, up around 0.1pc from late US levels.