LONDON Dec 27 Fresh concerns that the United
States may fail to reach a deal to avoid growth-sapping fiscal
measures weighed on European shares on Thursday, pushing a key
index down from its highs.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index
provisionally closed broadly flat at 1,137.30 points, although
the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index edged
up by 0.4 percent to 2,658.30 points.
Traders remained focused on progress by U.S. politicians to
avoid a "fiscal cliff" - a combination of government spending
cuts and tax rises due to take effect early next year which
could hit the U.S. economy.
The FTSEurofirst 300 fell from an intraday high of 1,141.79
points after the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned
that the country could go over the edge of the "cliff", although
most traders still felt an agreement would eventually be struck.
"Clients are a little bit nervous. We may get a further
pullback going forward but the general outlook is still
positive. The general expectation is that when push comes to
shove, they'll reach an agreement," said Giles Watts, head of
dealing at City Index.