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A senior official told the Financial Times that Mr Berlusconi has proposed to resign after parliament passes a new financial stability law containing the reform measures agreed with the European Union.

News of the billionaire prime minister’s plans to stand aside came after a day that saw him lose his majority in parliament and Italian bond yields set fresh euro-era highs, intensifying questions as to whether Italy will be able to service its debts.

Following the news of Mr Berlusconi’s offer to depart the euro gained 0.4 per cent against the dollar to $1.3836. Gold fell after earlier reaching $1,800 per troy ounce for the first time since September.