Shares fall, euro slides as Monti sparks Italy uncertainty


The euro swooped towards a two-week low and shares and Italian bonds fell on Monday, after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's decision to resign early triggered fears of a fresh bout of euro zone uncertainty.

Monti announced over the weekend he would resign once the country's budget for 2013 is approved, raising questions over who will take the reins of the euro zone's third largest economy, still a central focus of the bloc's debt crisis.

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Top European shares on the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> opened down 0.3 percent with a 2.4 percent slump on Milan's Ftse Mib and a 1 percent drop on Madrid's IBEX matched by smaller falls in London , Paris and Frankfurt .

The euro slid 0.25 percent to $1.2900 in early trading towards a two-week low of $1.2876 plumbed on Friday.

In bond markets Italian bonds fell sharply with yields on benchmark 10-year bonds up 24 basis points at 4.78 percent.

"If Monti's pro-euro stance is to back off, that should raise concerns about the euro," said Junya Tanase, chief currency strategist at JPMorgan Chase in Tokyo.

Balancing the political concerns were data from China which showed factory output in the world's number two economy accelerated to eight-month highs in November, and a drop in U.S. unemployment figures on Friday.

Copper prices hit their highest in almost two months on the data, gold firmed 0.2 percent to around $1,707 an ounce, while oil prices snapped five straight days of losses to remain above $107 a barrel.

"It does appear, based on the evidence of the data, that the Chinese economy has bottomed out," said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.

(Additional reporting by Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Peter Graff)