Down start for Piazza Affari where weakness in banks weighs more than in the rest of Europe due to the Italian index's strong exposure to the sector.

Around 9:30 a.m. the Ftse Mib loses 0.7 percent after falling below -1 percent compared with only fractional declines for the European STOXX 600 and slight declines for Frankfurt and London. More substantial was the decline in Paris, which is affected by the climate of political uncertainty ahead of early elections at the end of the month.

In Milan, few stocks are saved from declines. These include the oil sector, which is benefiting from a positive week for crude oil, although it is retracting slightly today. Tenaris and Saipem are up 0.3 percent, Eni is flat.

It is the banks that are the leading bearers, with the index down 1.4% but down to over -2%. Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit give up 1.2%, MPS -2.2% after touching -3.5%.

Minus sign also for automotive, luxury and general industrials. Diasorin -2.2%.

Lively Stm and Juventus around +0.9%.

(Claudia Cristoferi, editing Sabina Suzzi)