The New York Stock Exchange. File.(Photo: Stephen Chernin, Getty Images)
LONDON -- Financial markets around the world were largely steady
in thin holiday trading Monday, although concerns remain over the
progress of U.S. budget discussions and the future of the economic
reform program in Italy.
U.S. stock index futures were pointing to a lower open on Wall Street, where trading will end at 1 p.m. ET.
weeks, discussions between the White House and Congress over a budget
deal have been the main driver in markets. If a deal isn't agreed to by
the start of 2013, automatic spending cuts and tax increases worth
hundreds of billions of dollars will be imposed - which many economists
say could push the U.S. economy back into recession.
prevailing view has been that a deal would be agreed to in time to avoid
the "fiscal cliff" but as the deadline nears there are growing doubts.
reality is given that the U.S. government is now closed for the holiday
break the likelihood of anything other than soothing procrastination is
highly unlikely much before the Jan. 1 deadline," said Michael Hewson,
senior market analyst at CMC Markets.
Doubts over the progress of discussions prompted a fairly sizeable selloff Friday.
if this stopgap measure is implemented it may not be enough to prevent
unwanted volatility in equity markets going into 2013 as investors try
and assess the adverse impact on the U.S. economy," said Neil MacKinnon,
global macro strategist at VTB Capital.
Most markets across
Europe are only open half a day and will re-open again Thursday. German
markets are closed for Christmas Eve.
Britain's FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.24% while the CAC-40 in France was down the same 0.24%.
well as monitoring developments in the U.S. investors will be keeping a
close watch on what's going on in Italy ahead of a general election in
Over the weekend, outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti indicated he would be willing to return if pro-reform parties back him.
the past year or so, Monti and his technocratic government have won
plaudits in the markets for their economic reforms and efforts to get a
grip on the country's borrowing. Italy has the second-highest debt
burden among the 17 EU countries that use the euro. Only Greece's is
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng, closed up 0.1% at
22,541.18 while South Korea's Kospi rose less than 0.1% to 1,981.82.
Japanese markets were closed for the Emperor's birthday holiday.
financial markets were subdued too. In the currency markets, the euro
was up 0.2% at $1.3227 while the benchmark New York oil price was down
22 cents at $88.44 a barrel.