Europe shares steady in early trade after Christmas break

PARIS Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:12am GMT

PARIS Dec 27 (Reuters) - European shares steadied early on Thursday in their first trading session following the Christmas break, with investors focusing on Washington's last-ditch efforts to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

At 0808 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.1 percent at 1,136.82 points.

With significant tax hikes and spending cuts set to be triggered next week, Republican House of Representatives speaker John Boehner urged the Democrat-controlled Senate to act to pull back from the cliff and offered to at least consider any bill the upper chamber produced.

"There is still hope for a last-minute deal, otherwise we're in for a correction in January. People have already priced in an agreement. Without it, the market can't stay at these levels," a Paris-based trader said.

Banking shares lost ground, while stocks in miners rose along with base metal prices, boosted by renewed optimism about China's economic growth.

Rio Tinto added 0.9 percent and BHP Billiton gained 0.8 percent.

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