Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures up 0.3% to 7,099.00
  • Dow Average down 1.1% to 33,707.94
  • Aussie up 0.4% to 0.7221 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield rose 1.7bps to 1.9477%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield rose 0.2bps to 1.62%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield fell 2bps to 2.20%
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,901.37
  • Brent futures up 1.0% to $96.39/bbl

Economic Events

  • 11am: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 1.25% 2032 Bonds
  • 11:30am: (AU) 4Q Wage Price Index QoQ, est. 0.7%, prior 0.6%
  • 11:30am: (AU) 4Q Wage Price Index YoY, est. 2.4%, prior 2.2%
  • 11:30am: (AU) 4Q Construction Work Done, est. 2.5%, prior -0.3%

U.S. equities fell, entering correction territory, as U.S. President Joe Biden joined allies in announcing a new tranche of sanctions on Russia after his counterpart Vladimir Putin recognized two separatist republics in eastern Ukraine and ordered troops sent to them.

The S&P 500 declined 1% Tuesday, down 10% from a high in January, as investors weighed the potential damage from sanctions targeting Russia’s elite and sovereign debt abroad.

Gold was little changed, the dollar was flat and benchmark Treasury yieldsdrifted at 1.93%.

Other News

The crown jewels usually bring to mind kingly treasures. Yet for the past 75 years, Italy’s own glittery trove was largely forgotten.

In the aftermath of World War II, Italy’s last king and his family left Rome in a hurry after Italians voted to dump them for a republic in June 1946.

A few days after the referendum, a representative of the ousted family stashed the crown jewels in a deposit box at the Bank of Italy, where they remain.

Over decades, neither the ownership of the crown jewels nor their fate was ever established. Nobody bothered to assess their worth. Then last year, the descendants of Umberto II, Italy’s last king, decided they wanted them back.

The government refused, saying the crown jewels belong to the Italian state. But unlike other royal assets seized in Italy, including villas and palaces, no postwar government ever got around to confiscating the jewels.

Last week, the ex-royal family sued the government and the Bank of Italy. The family is ready to fight all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, Mr. Orlandi said.

The government and the central bank declined to comment. The Bank of Italy has said it was just the treasure’s custodian.

Male descendants of the former royal family have long been banned from Italy. Umberto II’s father, Vittorio Emanuele III, was condemned for his inaction during the rise of fascism under Benito Mussolini.

After Mussolini’s fall, the king stepped aside for his son in 1944. By then, it was too late to save the monarchy.
In recent decades, the family made headlines chiefly over Umberto II’s son, Vittorio Emanuele IV, bickering with members of another branch of the family, the Savoia Aosta, over which male descendant is the rightful pretender to the nonexistent throne of Italy.

Vittorio Emanuele IV and his three sisters — Maria Gabriella, Maria Pia and Maria Beatrice — have recruited Vittorio Emanuele’s son, Emanuele Filiberto, to represent them in the crown jewels lawsuit.

Emanuele Filiberto, 49 years old, has appeared on Italy’s version of the TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” and owns a pasta restaurant in Los Angeles.

He is as close to popular in Italy as any member of the former royal family gets. Elena D’Acierno, a nurse from Milan, created a Facebook group of around 5,000 of his fans.

Determining the rightful owner of the crown jewels is just part of their mystery. None of the former royal family has seen them. Few living people have.

Mr. Orlandi said the family has an inventory list, but they aren’t sure what they will find at the bank. “We’ll go to court also to find out what’s actually inside the treasure chest,” he said.

The Bank of Italy has a list, too, but hasn’t revealed it and said it doesn’t know the market value of the jewels.
Italian media reports say the crown jewels include a diadem, necklaces and brooches decorated with thousands of diamonds and other precious stones, with guesses of its total value as high as 300 million euros, about $342 million.

One of the few people who have seen the crown jewels in the past 75 years is jeweler and designer Gianni Bulgari. He wasn’t impressed.

“They were objects of surprisingly modest quality and value,” he said recently in a letter to Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

In his view, the whole kit and caboodle was worth maybe a few million euros.

Mr. Bulgari was allowed to inspect the box’s contents in 1976, with a judge present, to make sure nothing had been stolen. It was the only time the treasure chest was opened since going into hiding. Mr. Bulgari couldn’t be reached for comment.

The former royals aren’t finding a lot of supporters in their quest.