European shares opened slightly lower Wednesday morning, amid a deepening political crisis in the euro zone’s third-largest economy. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was off around 0.2 percent shortly after the opening bell, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory.
In Asia, equities tumbled lower Wednesday as Italy’s power struggle rippled across global financial markets. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, was off more than 1.5 percent on the news.
Meanwhile, the reverberations of Italy’s political upheaval also prompted a sharp downturn on Wall Street. U.S. stocks were led lower by declines in the banking sector as the Dow Jones industrial average slipped almost 400 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also finished lower.
Tuesday’s losses marked the third straight trading session of negative numbers for the Dow and S&P 500, both of which suffered their worst day on a percentage basis since April 24.
Back in Europe, political developments in Italy were widely expected to remain in the spotlight Wednesday. Investors were fearful that euroskeptic parties in Rome could frame a new election as a de facto referendum on Italy’s role in Europe.
Italy has been without a government since an inconclusive vote in early March, with the president finally nominating former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister until a snap poll is held sometime between September and spring 2019.
On the data front, the euro area is scheduled to publish industrial sentiment, services sentiment, economic sentiment and business confidence data for May at around 10 a.m. London time.