Published December 04, 2012
LONDON – European shares consolidated their recent rise on Tuesday after a surprise drop in U.S. manufacturing added to worries about stalled budget negotiations, while the euro hovered at a six-week high on optimism over Greece's plan to buy back debt.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares opened steady at 1121.46 points, with a 0.1 percent fall on London's FTSE 100 balanced by small gains on Frankfurt's DAX and Paris's CAC-40.
Worries about a looming wave of U.S. spending cuts and tax hikes intensified on Monday, after the White House dismissed a budget deal proposal from Republicans, saying it did not meet President Barack Obama's pledge to raise taxes on the rich.
In a sign that U.S. manufacturing may also be struggling to gain traction, the Institute for Supply Management index of national factory activity in November hit it softest level since July 2009, possibly hit by the impact of superstorm Sandy.
Berkeley Futures associate director Richard Griffiths said worries over the U.S. budget situation were causing many traders to err on the side of caution by selling shares to take profits after recent rallies.
"There's a lot of doubt about it at the moment, hence stock markets are drifting lower. Sentiment has just turned a bit negative recently," said Griffiths.
The euro extended its recent rally, hitting a fresh six-week high of $1.3077 as markets were reassured by news that Greece was planning to buy back bonds to cut its debt, which first triggered the euro zone crisis three years ago.
The European single currency's rise helped push the dollar to a one-month low against a basket of currencies, with its index falling to 79.761.
In debt markets, German government bonds were steady, as concerns over U.S. budget talks supported safe-haven assets even as better than expected terms for Greece's buy-back underpinned higher-yielding euro zone bonds.
In Asian trading, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped from a nine-month high falling 0.2 percent, while Australian shares lost 0.6 percent and Japan's Nikkei fell 0.3 percent.
U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street when trading resumes and riskier assets such as commodities were also hit, with oil, copper and gold all losing ground.
"Oil markets are starting to come off on the weaker-than-expected manufacturing data and the fact that the U.S. economic outlook remains unclear," said Natalie Rampono, commodity strategist at ANZ in Sydney.