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European stocks lower as fiscal cliff talks stall; Dax down 0.1%

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Investing.com - Investing.com - European stocks edged lower in rangebound trade after the open on Thursday, as sentiment turned cautious towards risk assets amid uncertainty over the looming U.S. fiscal cliff crisis.

During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 dipped 0.1%, France's CAC 40 edged 0.1% lower, while Germany's DAX 30 shed 0.1%.

Market players continued to monitor developments surrounding the fiscal cliff in the U.S., approximately USD600 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1, unless a divided Congress and the White House can work out a compromise in the two weeks left before the deadline.

Doubts over whether a deal will be reached ahead of the year-end deadline intensified Wednesday after a spokesman for President Barack Obama said that the White House would veto a tax and spending proposal presented by House Speaker John Boehner.

Financial stocks were mostly lower, with shares in Germany's Commerzbank dropping 2%, while France's Credit Agricole shed 0.6%.

Swiss lender UBS saw shares retreat 1.2% after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it started an investigation to see whether there was any wrongdoing by the bank in its submission of data for setting the Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate.

UBS was fined USD1.5 billion earlier in the week to settle charges with U.S. and U.K. regulators for manipulating LIBOR rates.

Meanwhile Swedish cellphone maker Ericsson lost 1.3% after saying it would take a fourth-quarter USD1.2 billion charge related to its wireless-chip venture with French-based STMicroelectronics. The chip maker was down 1.3% in Paris.

Elsewhere, in London, FTSE 100 eased down modestly as investors looked ahead to the release of retail sales data for November later in the session.

Financial sector stocks were mixed, with Lloyds Banking Group up 0.25%, while Barclays fell 0.9%.

Miners were mostly higher, with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rising 0.8% and 0.5% respectively, while copper producer Xstrata inched up 0.4%.

Across the Atlantic, U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open, as investors eyed ongoing U.S. budget talks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.1% gain, S&P 500 futures were little changed, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.15% rise.

Later Thursday, the U.S. was to release the weekly report on initial jobless claims, as well as revised data on third quarter growth and data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia. In addition, the U.S. was to publish industry data on existing home sales.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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