Futures Stumble as Italy Adds to Euro Fears
U.S. stock index futures were lower Wednesday as political uncertainty in Italy sparked fresh worries over the euro zone.
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Political deadlock continued in Italy as the country's main leadership candidate Pier Luigi's Bersani reportedly said that only an "insane person" would want to govern the nation now, adding that Italy is "in a mess and faces a difficult year ahead."
Bersani made the remark after the anti-establishment "Five Star Movement" party headed by comedian Beppe Grillo again refused to form a coalition government with Bersani, thwarting his latest attempts to form a governing alliance.
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A political stalemate since its inconclusive elections in late February has spiked concerns over how the country will handle its growing debt problems. Italy paid more to borrow over five years than it has since October at its latest auction, indicating worries over its financial situation.
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Elsewhere in Europe, Cyprus is finalizing financial control measures to prevent a run on its banks, which have been shut for a week since the country agreed to a conditional 10 billion euro ($12.8 billion) bailout from international lenders. Cypriots have been lining up to withdraw cash from ATMs, with limits at 100 euros a day for some banks.
"Banks will open on Thursday ... We will look at the best way to limit the possibility of large sums of money leaving, and not imposing punitive conditions on the economy, businesses and individuals," Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris said in an interview on Cypriot television.
"You can't leave your money in the bank — that's the lesson we're learning now with Cyprus. Why leave your money in an interest-bearing bank account when you never know, the bank could fail. Why not buy something that central banks can't print?" said Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital.
Trading is likely to be thin ahead of the three-day Easter weekend. U.S. markets will be closed Friday for Good Friday.
On the economic front, the National Association of Realtors is expected to report its monthly pending home sales at 10 am ET. Economists polled by Reuters expect a 0.9 percent decline in February, compared with a 4.5 percent rise in the prior month.
Weekly mortgage applications rebounded last week as interest rates pulled back for the first time in three weeks, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Meanwhile, crude oil inventories for last week will be released by the Energy Department at 10:30 am ET. Inventories rose by 1.31 million in the prior week.
The Treasury is slated to auction $35 billion in 5-year notes with the results available shortly after 1pm ET.
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—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
WEDNESDAY: Pending home sales, oil inventories, Fed's Evans speaks, Fed's Rosengren speaks, Fed's Pianalto speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, 5-yr note auction, farm prices; Earnings from Red Hat, Paychex
THURSDAY: GDP, jobless claims, corporate profits, Chicago PMI, natural gas inventories, 7-yr note auction, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Ebay analysts mtg, weekly rail numbers; Earnings from Accenture, Blackberry, Mosaic, Gamestop
FRIDAY: Good Friday—U.S. banks open/equity markets closed, personal income & outlays, consumer sentiment
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