* FTSEurofirst 300, Euro STOXX 50 flat
* FTSEurofirst +13.8 pct in 2012, ESTOXX +14.5 pct
* Euronext markets close at 1300 GMT, UK market 1230 GMT
* German, Swiss, Italian, Greek, Nordic markets closed
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Dec 24 European shares were broadly
steady on Monday, consolidating sharp gains made in the past
five weeks, with volumes set to be thin for the traditionally
quiet half session ahead of the Christmas break.
A number of European markets such as the French, Dutch,
Spanish and UK ones will only trade for half the session on
Monday, while trading in Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece,
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland is closed.
At 0900 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was down 0.02 percent, at 1,138.91 points, still
just a few points shy of an 19-month high of 1,144.15 hit last
The euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50 index
was flat, Britain's FTSE 100 index was up 0.17 percent,
France's CAC 40 down 0.04 percent and Spain's IBEX
up 0.14 percent.
Investors remained cautious as talks between U.S. 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
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner out of
Washington for the Christmas holidays.
"The gap between the positions of Democrats and Republicans
has been tightening, but the outcome remains uncertain," Edmond
de Rothschild Asset Management strategists wrote in a note.
"But the macro data remains quite positive. We're still
'overweight' equities, and we buy the dips to further increase
our exposure to the asset class. The risk premium linked to the
euro zone debt crisis should drop further next year."
The FTSEurofirst 300 is up 13.7 percent in 2012 while the
Euro STOXX 50 has gained 14.5 percent. Both indexes
are set to post their best annual performances since the sharp
bounce of 2009, boosted by bold measures from central banks to
revive global growth and resolve the euro zone debt crisis.
"This year has been a year of transition, and now it's time
to turn the page and move on, to start picking stocks again for
the long term, companies exposed to the emerging consumer in
places like Asia and Africa," said David Thebault, head of
quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities.
After shunning European assets most of the year because of
fears the region's debt crisis would lead to a break-up of the
currency bloc, investors have shown appetite for European stocks
recently, according to EPFR Global data.
Europe equity funds enjoyed inflows last week, with
US-domiciled funds extending their current inflow streak to 19
straight weeks, the data showed.
Euronext markets will be closing at 1300 GMT, while UK
markets will close at 1230 GMT.