Europe News

Italy's populists launch fresh attempt at forming a government amid political chaos

Key Points
  • Investor relief on the suggestion that Italy is close to forming a coalition government.
  • Italian two-year yield falls sharply while stocks rise.
  • Automated trading blamed for the global market reaction to Italian instability.
Italy is about to have a breakthrough, says Five Star Movement lawmaker

Italian assets were on the rise Thursday on the back of hopes that the country is close to forming a government.

Technocrat politician Carlo Cottarelli, who at one stage was himself prime minister-designate, said in a statement that "new possibilities for the birth of a political government have emerged." This has been taken as an indication that a compromise between the two populist parties, Five Star Movement (M5S) and Lega, could be reached as soon as today.

M5S leader Luigi Di Maio has proposed picking a new economics minister candidate to replace the euroskeptic Paolo Savona in order to satisfy Italian President Sergio Mattarella. The president had vetoed Savona's appointment Sunday night, but Di Maio said the 81-year-old could be offered an alternative cabinet role.

Italian bonds rallied for a second day on Thursday following a rise in investor hopes confidence that a stable government could now be formed. The yield on the Italian two-year paper rose 154 basis points on Tuesday, marking its biggest increase in 26 years. This morning, yields fell back more than 100 basis points, the biggest fall since 1996. Prices move inversely to yield.

In the stock market, Italian equities were more than 1 percent higher in Thursday morning trade, erasing more than half of losses suffered since the open of trade Monday.

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Thursday, M5S lawmaker Lorenzo Fioramonti said this week's market swings delivered a strong message.

"The lesson has been learned by everyone, both by political parties and institutions, that what we need is certainty. What we really need is a government that has the political power and the backing of voters to be credible, internationally," he said.

Fioramanti claimed that his party's political program was "nothing completely out of the ordinary" and would mirror the Portuguese growth policies implemented in 2015.

Election date difficulty

Emma Bonino, head of the liberal Piu' Europa party and Italy's former foreign minister, said calling another election so soon would be a bad idea.

"July is legally impossible and now they are proposing September, which is also very bizarre. This would mean the electoral campaign will be at the seaside because our summer and our vacation as are in August," she told "Squawk Box Europe."

The pro-European political veteran described Italy's proportional voting system as "a terrible law" that generated results in which nobody can win.

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Machine trader volatility

The Italian bond market is the third largest in the world and the extreme volatility in recent days shook the faith of multi-asset investors across the globe.

At one stage Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average had tumbled more than 450 points. Banks led the selloff, and the S&P financial sector declined more than 3 percent.

Ali Miremadi, investment director in the global equities team at GAM said Thursday that the automated nature of trading had caused selling to exhibit a snowball effect. He told CNBC's "Street Signs" that the increasing proportion of trading participation from algorithms and passive programs was creating strange reactions to events.

"Markets had become quite comfortable with Italy and something that even with just a few days perspective doesn't seem that colossal news, was taken very strongly," he said. "The machines chased each other down."

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