Stocks tumble as Italian crisis knocks global sentiment

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Technology companies also fell.

ITALY: Investors dumped Italian government bonds, driving borrowing costs sharply higher for that country and rekindling fears of more financial strain for Europe's third-largest economy.

Italy has searched for a new government since inconclusive elections in March, and investors fear voters will choose leaders hoping to break with the continent's austere fiscal policy approach and even the multinational euro currency that replaced the lira in 2002.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 391.64 points, or 1.58 percent, to 24,361.45, the S&P 500 lost 31.47 points, or 1.16 percent, to 2,689.86 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 37.26 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,396.59.

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Safe-haven U.S. Treasury bonds and German bunds rallied, as did the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar and gold.

"The risk to the euro is predominantly political in the near term", Alvin Tan, a currency strategist at Societe Generale, said, adding the euro would likely stay capped at $1.15 or $1.16 until the Italian political crisis was resolved.

CURRENCIES: New jitters about the stability of the euro sent the currency's value against the dollar to its lowest level in nearly a year.

Reflecting the move to safer assets, the yield on USA government bonds fell to 2.78 percent, the lowest percentage since the beginning of April, from 2.93 percent.

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ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Worries over geopolitics look set to hit Asia after sweeping through Europe and also the U.S.at the start of the week". MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan.MIAPJ0000PUS closed 0.9 percent lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.78 per cent, its lowest since early April, from 2.93 per cent.

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A steep drop in US bond yields, which drives interest rates lower on loans, weighed heavily on banks.

"It's evolving into not the greatest environment for bank stocks", said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in NY. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, shed 38 cents to $75.11 a barrel in London.

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