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Italian banks under pressure following referendum result

first_imgInvestors have turned their attention to Italy’s struggling banking sector following the resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi.Renzi quit after losing decisively a referendum on a proposed overhaul of the Italian constitution, with 60% voting against his measures.President Sergio Mattarella is expected to appoint Renzi’s successor this week, bringing in a “caretaker” government that will attempt to force through political reform.However, the setback has brought uncertainty over the recapitalisation of Italy’s banking sector. Banco Monte dei Paschi – one of the country’s biggest banks – requires €5bn of fresh capital to meet stringent European rules, and is in talks with private-sector backers today in an effort to hammer out a rescue deal.Azad Zangana, senior European economist and strategist at Schroders, said a “bail-in” of the predominantly retail Monte dei Paschi could be difficult, “especially if a lack of [political] leadership persists for too long”.Alberto Chiandetti, fund manager at Fidelity, said: “Monte dei Paschi last week obtained less Tier 2 debt conversion than expected (€1bn versus the expected €1.5bn-2bn), but now the focus is on whether an anchor investor will materialise or not. If not, Monte dei Paschi needs a plan B, and, in that scenario, bank shares are likely to suffer most.”UniCredit has also struggled to maintain the required capital buffers this year due to non-performing loans, and is due to raise more capital next week.Chiandetti said the post-referendum environment would “no doubt weigh on this upcoming deal and put pressure on UniCredit shares”.However, Roelof Salomons, senior strategist at Kempen Capital Management, said the banking sector’s problems were “only a matter of a fraction of the Italian economy and of the overall Italian government debt”.Darren Ruane, head of fixed interest at Investec Wealth & Investment, added: “In general, the major Italian banks are less threatened by the referendum result because they already hold reasonable levels of capital and have been working through their asset quality problems.”However, shares in UniCredit and Monte dei Paschi were down by 5.8% and 3.7%, respectively, at 1:40pm GMT versus their closing price on Friday.FTSE MIB, the main Italian stock market, was up by 0.36%, having initially spiked by more than 3% in the first hour of trading this morning.Italian government bonds have traded roughly flat today after an initial bout of volatility in early trading.The euro weakened slightly against the dollar and the pound, but most commentators pointed out that markets had already priced in a rejection of Renzi’s proposals.Away from the banking sector, investors voiced concern about Italy’s low growth, which would be exacerbated by political stagnation.“[Italy’s] gross debt is the highest in Europe at 133% of GDP, and the debt servicing stands at 4% of GDP per annum,” said Zangana.“Should interest rates rise in the future, the government will have little choice but to implement more austerity, hurting growth further.”Jon Jonsson, a fixed income manager at Neuberger Berman, said: “From a market perspective, the ‘No’ vote will reduce confidence in the recovery of the Italian economy. It will also likely increase uncertainty stemming from rising euroscepticism across the euro area. Indeed, it will likely negatively impact Italian government bonds and risky assets in Europe.”However, he added that markets “could fully price these developments sooner than expected and reach oversold levels”.He said: “Patience is key, and there may be opportunities to use any substantial sell-off to buy attractively priced assets.”In some corners, the referendum – which for many Italians had become a vote of confidence in Renzi rather than a vote on political reform – has been seen as the first of a string of important political events taking place over the next 12 months.In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US, commentators had warned of a wave of populism and anti-establishment voting across Europe.However, Eoin Fahy, chief economist and investment strategist at KBI Global Investors, said: “I do not believe this is the start of contagion in Europe. People wouldn’t normally be focused on this kind of referendum.”He added that the European Central Bank – expected to announce changes to its quantitative-easing programme on Thursday – would be able to step in as a buyer if bond markets were affected.last_img read more

USC tops UCLA in UCI Invitational final

first_imgThe last time the Women of Troy found themselves in an overtime thriller, Anni Espar netted her second goal of the game to secure the Women of Troy the 2013 NCAA National Championship title in a triple-overtime sudden death extravaganza against Stanford. And though the national title wasn’t on the line Sunday evening, USC’s chances of defending its UCI Invitational crown — and bragging rights — were.Take the lead · Senior two-meter Colleen O’Donnell scored six goals throughout the four games of the UCI Invitational, including two goals in the championship game against UCLA, which put USC ahead 5-3. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanStanding in the way of retaining that title was crosstown rival No. 3 UCLA.After demolishing Cal State Bakersfield 21-1 in the opening round of the tournament Saturday morning behind a combined five-goal effort by the Haralabidis twins —  freshmen drivers Ioanna (3) and Stephania (2) — the Women of Troy found themselves in a rematch with No. 10 Cal State Northridge.In USC’s first meeting with the Matadors earlier this month, senior goalie Flora Bolonyai tallied 10 saves during a spectacular performance that led to the sixth shutout in program history in a 13-0 victory. Even though the Matadors were able to find their way onto the scoreboard this time, Bolonyai repeated with another stellar outing, recording 12 saves in just three periods of work as USC earned a 12-5 triumph.A strong Saturday in the pool earned the Women of Troy a spot in the semifinals, where they faced No. 4 California Sunday morning.Jumping out to a quick first period 4-1 lead, the Trojans never allowed the Golden Bears to gather any momentum. USC entered intermission with a 6-3 advantage and gave up no ground in the second half.Stephania Haralabidis — who logged her first career four-goal game — continued her offensive prowess as she scored four goals in USC’s 12-7 victory over Cal. On Monday, she was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Newcomer of the Week after leading the Women of Troy with 10 goals throughout the four-game tournament.“Stephania was excellent against Cal,” said 12-time National Coach of the Year Jovan Vavic. “She is a young player, but this girl is going to be an Olympian for sure. When she gets more comfortable in our system and starts playing more [freely], without too much thinking, she is going to be an unbelievable player.”After UCLA stunned No. 2 Stanford by registering a 9-6 sweep of the Cardinal in the other semifinal matchup, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.The Women of Troy entered the game with an unblemished record of 11-0, largely thanks to incredible offensive production throughout the season so far. But the dynamic Bruin play style turned the championship game into a defensive battle.The Blue and Gold got on the board first, gaining a 2-0 lead before senior two-meter Madeline Rosenthal ripped one in to close out the first period, number 15 of the young season for the Miami native.In the second half, senior two-meter Colleen O’Donnell propelled USC to a 5-3 lead with back-to-back scores of her own.As time was winding down in the fourth period, the determined Bruins cut into the lead with just under two minutes to play. As Trojan fans began to celebrate, UCLA plugged in another goal with just five seconds remaining in regulation to even the score and force overtime.“It was disappointing for us to have a two-goal lead with just a couple minutes to go and let them get back into it,” Vavic said. “We relaxed. We got the lead, and we stopped attacking. We made some defensive errors, and we just didn’t finish the game when we had a chance to do so.”With momentum in their favor, the Bruins continued their scoring streak — recording the lone goal in the first period of overtime to take a 6-5 lead. But this would not last long.In the second period, junior two-meter Eike Daube was determined to keep the undefeated season alive. Just 42 seconds in, Daube rocketed a shot across the goal, which found its way into the net to even the score. Daube’s day was not finished there.Just after the U.S. Junior National Team member tied it up, Daube tacked on another one with a skip shot to pull the Women of Troy ahead, 7-6. Terrific Trojan defense followed, giving USC the title of UCI Invitational champions once again.“Eike came through in the second overtime, and this is her best overall performance as a Trojan,” Vavic said. “Whenever there is a little bit of adversity, it’s great to see someone like Eike step up.”Daube’s stellar play throughout the tournament, which included three goals against Cal in the semifinals in addition to her late heroics against UCLA, earned the title of MPSF Player of the Week.The tournament was USC’s first tough competition of the year and Vavic treated it as a great learning experience.“I learned that we are really tough,” Vavic said. “We stayed together when we were challenged. We are going to be a tough team to beat this year.”Next up for the Women of Troy is a trip to Tempe, Ariz., where USC will face Arizona State in its first MPSF event of the season.last_img read more