LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) - European stocks fell in the last
session of the year on Monday as an impasse in U.S. budget talks
pushed the world's biggest economy to the edge of the "fiscal
cliff" of austerity measures that would curb global growth.
The U.S. Senate was due to meet at 1600 GMT to continue
discussion over averting the steep tax increases and spending
cuts due to kick in the new year, but there were still
significant differences between the two sides.
Trading will be muted on Monday as a number of European
stocks exchanges such as the French, Dutch, Spanish and UK
markets will only trade for half the session, while those in
Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland
will be closed.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down
0.1 percent at 1,129.58 points, while France's CAC was
down 0.1 percent to 3,615.94 points and Britain's FTSE
shed 0.2 percent to 5,909.62 points at 0803 GMT.
"Volumes are very depressed and we're going to see a lot of
cash off the table and investors are probably going to take
profit on cyclical shares," Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist
at ETX Capital, said.
Siddiqi added a failure to avert the "fiscal cliff" may push
the FTSE back to a late November low of 5,800 in the coming