Italian markets hit by concerns over budget spat

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Aimed at fulfilling electoral promises, Italy's planned spending boost is what the government calls its "people's budget".

Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Friday that Italy reduce its spending plans because "we as the European Union are not prepared to take on this risk, these debts for Italy".

If it is not amended, the Commission could reject the draft by October 29 in what would be an unprecedented move that could further rattle financial markets.

In its review of Rome's budgetary plans, the EU Commission can raise concerns until Monday. That has never happened before.

Moscovici said Italy would be treated like any other member state, adding: "I can not imagine a Europe without Italy or Italy without Europe".

"Most of the government's spending increases are structural in nature, implying that they will be hard to reverse", Moody's wrote.

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Italy's government borrowing rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond on Friday hitting its highest level since 2013. The increase in the yield premium spilled over elsewhere, with the FTSE-MIB Index of shares extending its losses to tumble 1.9 percent at the close.

Luigi Di Maio, the head of the 5-Star Movement, on Thursday threatened to lodge a formal criminal complaint. The letter stated that Italy's budget proposal, which was initially announced in September was in contravention of the EU's budget regulations. "We would therefore ask for your arguments for not taking on board the PBO's opinion", the commission said.

Conte called the budget "beautiful", having said on Wednesday on arriving for a two-day European Union summit that he saw no room for changing tack on it. It said Friday that it expects higher deficits than the government, at around 2.5 percent of GDP in each of the coming three years. Italy projects this will widen by 0.8 percent, more than the 0.6 percent improvement Brussels wants.

Salvini said Saturday he wasn't anxious about the downgrade or the criticism and that the Italian government was merely doing what was best for Italians. The Commission has demanded smaller gaps for Italy to bring down its debt load, which totals 2.3 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) in absolute terms and which as a proportion of GDP is the second highest in the euro area, after Greece.

An escalation is programmed in if Italy opts not to change its spending plans and sticks to its deficit target. The previous government promised to keep the deficit at 0.8 percent next year.

The budget drew stinging criticism from the EU's top economic affairs officials, who penned a letter to Rome describing the plans as "unprecedented" and warning that Brussels does not rule out rejecting the entire budget. "But what matters is not the sanction itself but the fact that there is a clear political conflict that the Commission can not and does not want to sweep under the carpet".

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