Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has announced he will step down ahead of a general election, sending shockwaves through European financial markets.
Monti, who is seen as a pro-European leader committed to keeping the euro zone together, was forced to depart after losing the support of the party run by former PM Silvio Berlusconi.
The controversial Berlusconi has previously spoken out against the austerity measures Monti introduced to try and rein in Italy’s massive debts.
But Monti said overnight he was confident that Italy’s commitment to Europe would not change with a new government.
"I am very confident that ... whatever coalition or government there will be, will be a highly responsible, Europe-oriented government,"
European Union wins Nobel Prize for peace
The European Union might have spent most of the year in crisis, but at least its leaders have finished the year on a high note. The EU was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace overnight for promoting peace and human rights in the region.
Leaders from around Europe, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italy’s Mario Monti, attended the ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo.
Ironically, Norway has twice rejected joining the European Union.
Prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said the EU must continue to bring its citizens together.
“The political framework in which the union is rooted is more important now than ever. We must stand together. We have collective responsibility.”
Austereo counts losses
The radio group at the centre of the royal prank call tragedy, Southern Cross Austereo, could be losing as much as $180,000 a day due to the advertising ban it has imposed on its top-rating Sydney station 2Day FM.
A report in The Australian Financial Review suggests the ban, which is in place until further notice, will hurt the company as 2Day is its biggest single source of revenue.
The hosts of the show that made the prank call, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, appeared on television last night to tearfully apologise for their role in the prank call, which involved a call to the hospital where future queen consort Kate Middleton was recovering from severe morning sickness.
The nurse who transferred the call took her life on the weekend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.37 points, or 0.18%, to 13,178.5 points, despite the political uncertainty in Europe and in America, where the fight over the fiscal cliff continues.
The Australian dollar was steady at $US1.0488.