Stocks fluctuate on fiscal cliff talks
European stocks declined for a third day, extending a two-month low, as US president Barack Obama prepared to hold talks with Republican lawmakers on the so-called fiscal cliff.
Royal Boskalis Westminster jumped 6 per cent after raising its 2012 profit forecast. STMicroelectronics fell 2.7 per cent as people familiar with the matter said the company will probably decide against splitting itself in two.
Henkel dropped 4.7 per cent as sales missed projections.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2 per cent to 265.06 at 9.06 am in London, after earlier rising the same amount.
The benchmark measure has lost 3.5 per cent since Obama's re-election on November 6 as traders turned their focus to the tax increases and spending cuts that automatically come into force at the beginning of next year if Congress doesn't act.
“Investors’ attention is focused on the meeting between lawmakers in the U.S. today to discuss the fiscal cliff," said John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities in Geneva, which oversees about $26 billion.
"If they can't agree in the coming days, we would be in a similar situation as last year when Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on raising the debt ceiling.
General expectation is that they'll come to an agreement in the last minute, but until then markets will be nervous and rather shaky."
Standard and Poor's 500 Index futures slipped 0.2 per cent, indicating the US gauge will extend this week's 1.9 per cent drop.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.6 per cent as Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average surged the most in two months amid speculation an election next month will hand power to an opposition party that advocates more aggressive monetary easing in the world's third-biggest economy.
President Obama holds his first face-to-face talks with House Speaker John Boehner since the presidential election today.
Today's meeting features the same people who failed to reach an agreement during debt-ceiling talks in 2011.