PARIS, Dec 24 European stocks are seen inching higher on Monday, consolidating their recent strong gains in a quiet half-session ahead of the Christmas break, although rises will be limited by lingering worries about the impasse in U.S. budget talks. A number of European markets such as the French, Dutch, Spanish and UK markets will only trade for half the session on Monday, while those in Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland will be closed. Japanese financial markets were also closed on Monday for a public holiday. Financial spreadbetters expect Britain's FTSE 100 to open around 2 points higher, or 0.03 percent, while futures for France's CAC were up 0.3 percent. Talks between Democrats and Republicans to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff - automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could drag the world's biggest economy back into recession - were stalled on Monday, with U.S. President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner out of Washington for the Christmas holidays. On the euro zone front, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, two days after stepping down, said on Sunday he would consider seeking a second term as Italian prime minister if approached by allies committed to backing his austere brand of reforms. On Saturday, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the European Commission will propose giving Spain, France and several other euro zone states more time to cut their public deficits below the target limit of 3 percent of GDP. Falling bank stocks led European shares lower on Friday, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares losing 0.3 percent, unsettled by signs the United States may fail to reach a deal to avoid growth-sapping fiscal measures. The FTSEurofirst 300 is set to post a gain of 13.8 percent for 2012, its best annual performance since the sharp bounce of 2009. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0718 GMT LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 1,430.15 -0.94 % -13.54 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 541.41 0.14 % 0.73 EUR/USD 1.3192 0.05 % 0.0006 USD/JPY 84.33 0.14 % 0.1200 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.770 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 1.375 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,662.45 0.38 % $6.36 US CRUDE $88.54 -0.14 % -0.12 > GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares steady, U.S. budget concerns weigh > Wall St ends lower after 'fiscal cliff' setback > Yen slips as premier-elect Abe heaps pressure on BOJ > PRECIOUS-Gold edges up, but U.S. fiscal talks drag > Copper edges up; eyes on US fiscal talks > Brent extends losses, below $109, on US budget uncertainty
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