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Italian stocks open lower over political turmoil

Italian Premier Mario Monti listens to a question during a press conference at the end of a cabinet meeting at Chigi Palace government's office in Rome, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. Concerns over the stability of the Italian government grew on Thursday after Silvio Berlusconi's party withdrew its support, threatening to bring a premature end to Premier Mario Monti's ambitious reforms program. Berlusconi's center-right PDL party abstained from a confidence vote in the Senate on Thursday. Though Monti's government of unelected technocrats won the vote by 127 to 17, investors fear the move heralds a period of political uncertainty in the run-up to planned elections next year. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

ROME (AP) -- Italy's stock market has opened sharply lower over uncertainty about Italy's political and fiscal future following Premier Mario Monti's surprise decision to resign because Silvio Berlusconi yanked his party's support.

The Milan stock exchange's benchmark FTSE MIB was trading down 3.3 percent at 15,179.98 Monday morning.

Monti's decision to resign after the 2013 budget passes means elections are expected in February. Berlusconi is running, though his People of Freedom party lags far behind the Democratic Party in the polls.

Monti was tapped to lead Italy a year ago after international markets lost confidence in Berlusconi's ability to save the country from a Greek-style debt crisis. Monti won back a degree of international credibility through a series of unpopular tax hikes and fiscal reforms. The Democrats have backed Monti's reforms.