European stocks steady in subdued trade; Dax closed

Shutterstock photo - European stocks were mixed in subdued trade on Monday, as investors remained cautious amid fears the U.S. will not be able to avert a fiscal crisis and political uncertainty in Italy.

During European morning trade, France's CAC 40 added 0.10%, while markets in Germany were to remain closed for Christmas Eve.

Market sentiment remained under pressure as investors 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.

The U.S. House has adjourned for the Christmas holiday, fueling speculation that policymakers will not be able to avert the fiscal cliff. Without a deal, the U.S. could fall back into recession and drag much of the world down with it.

Adding to concerns, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti tendered his resignation after only 13 months in office, paving the way for a highly uncertain national election in February.

Financial stocks were mixed, as French lenders BNP Paribas and Societe Generale saw shares inch up 0.05% and 0.03%, while peripheral banks such as Spain's Banco Santander and Italy's Unicredit declined 0.49% and 2.05% respectively.

Elsewhere, Finnish cellphone company Nokia plunged 1.31% after signing an agreement worth USD321 million with Chinese e-commerce giant 360buy as part of a strategic partnership, in which the former will sell its smartphones directly on the latter's online platform.

In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 inched up 0.08%, boosted by gains in mining stocks.

Shares in Evraz surged 2.54% and BHP Billiton added 0.05%, while copper producers Xstrata and Kazakhmys rallied 1.09% and 0.40%.

Weir Group added to gains, jumping 1.55%, following reports last week that the engineering company has broadened its operations in the North American shale gas market by agreeing the takeover of Mathena, a US provider of equipment and services for oil and gas drillers.

Meanwhile, financial stocks were mostly lower. Barclays dropped 0.46% and Lloyds Banking declined 0.41%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland retreated 0.60%. HSBC Holdings overperformed on the other hand, with shares climbing 0.75%.

In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.43% drop, S&P 500 futures signaled a 0.55% decline, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.48% loss.

U.S. equity markets will close early at 13:30EST (18:30 GMT).

Trading volumes were expected to remain light because many traders have closed books to lock in profit before the end of the year, reducing liquidity in the market and increasing the volatility. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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.

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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