Markets around the world lost ground on Tuesday amid more troubled economic news from Spain and poor third-quarter results among many companies in the United States.
European markets fared poorly. Paris's CAC 40 and Frankfurt's DAX indices fell 2.2% and 2.11% respectively. Madrid's Ibex 35 index lost 1.48%.
London's FTSE-100 index ceded 1.44%.
Milan's FTSE MIB index dipped 1.81% to close at 15,578 points, on the day a study emerged illustrating the devastating performance of the Milan bourse over the last two years.
From January 2011 to October 2012, only one fifth of companies listed on the exchange saw their stocks rise, according to the Indices and Data study by Mediobanca and R&S. Over the same period, the capitalization of listed companies sank 22%, and one quarter of them saw their value halved. Milan's worst-hit large-cap stock on Tuesday was the media company Mediaset, which sank 4.28% to close at 1.41 euros. Mediaset has lost 14% of its value in the last four trading sessions. Finmeccanica sank 3.81% to 3.89 euros after a corruption scandal broke concerning its supplying activities to Brazil.
The press reported the arrest of an ex-manager and the investigation of an ex-industry minister. Luxury fashion stocks ceded terrain, with Salvatore Ferragamo and Tod's losing 4.20% and 3.22% respectively. Italian banks weakened with the return of Italian bond-interest-rates tensions.
Italian bond-interest rates started to climb again with the yield on 10-year bonds closing at 4.87% on Tuesday. The spread between Italian bond rates and the German equivalent closed at 329 basis points after widening to 333 points during trading. The president of the banking association ABI, Giuseppe Mussari, said it was difficult to contemplate growth for the Italian economy given the current spread. If, however, the spread manages to fall to levels seen before 2011, "Italy has all the conditions to start growing again," Mussari said.
The difference between interest rates on Spanish bonds and the German benchmark also widened on Tuesday to close at 407 basis points. The yield on Spanish 10-year bonds was 5.64%.
Bond spreads are an important gauge of market confidence in Italy's and Spain's ability to pay down their large public debts.