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IMF team to visit Italy next week

The IMF said yesterday it will send a team to Italy next week as the country continues to face pressure in markets over its huge foreign debt and speculation that it needs a financial bailout.

“A small team from the IMF will visit Rome next week to meet with the new authorities, receive updates on recent budgetary developments, and discuss modalities for future monitoring missions,” said an International Monetary Fund spokesperson.

The mission comes amid speculation that the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF have discussed the possibility of having to mount a rescue of Italy involving hundreds of billions of dollars if it appears unable to continue servicing its huge sovereign debt.

A new auction of Italian sovereign bonds earlier Wednesday underscored the worries in markets over Rome’s ability to stabilize its finances.

Italy paid its highest interest rate ever since the creation of the euro, raising €3 billion at a rate of 6.47 per cent for five-year bonds.

Italy paid 6.29 per cent to issue five-year bonds at the last similar sale on November 14.

New Prime Minister Mario Monti is under pressure to reduce Italy’s huge debt burden but also to kick-start growth to stave off the debt crisis sweeping the eurozone.

Yesterday lawmakers were fine-tuning proposed austerity measures before a debate begins in the lower house of Parliament with a vote expected this week.

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