Europe mid-session: Stocks little changed ahead of holiday



LONDON (ShareCast) - - European stocks little changed amid close of markets
- US leaders put fiscal cliff talks on hold
- Egypt's president under fire over fast-tracking referendum

FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) : -0.91%
Dax (Xetra: ^GDAXI - news) -30: -0.96%
Cac-40: 0.11%
FTSE Mibtel 30: -0.99%
Ibex 35: -0.00%
Stoxx 600: 0.29%

European equities remained steady by the midday mark Monday as markets were traditionally calm ahead of the Christmas break.

Markets in most European nations including Germany, Switzerland and Italy are closed so there was little incentive for investments. Trading in Belgium, France and Portugal close at 1pm.

US leaders President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are also taking a break. The two have put US budget talks on hold over Christmas despite concerns over a 'fiscal cliff' of tax hikes and spending cuts should they fail to reach a deal by January.

The country is also considering talks soon on a trading deal with the European Union, according to reports Monday. The trans-Atlantic trade deal would be aimed at Europe's protected agriculture markets and in ridding tariffs and regulations that supress trade and cross-border investment.

Opponents slam Egyptian president's referendum vote

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi may have ruined his chances of reviving the country from a budget deficit by fast-tracking the constitution through to a referendum, the opposition has said.

Opponents said the leader has potentially quashed any broader support for urgent austerity measures to fix the wailing economy.

The charter was approved by a 64% majority, according to tallies from Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood. However, opponents said he lost the vote in much of the capital and isolated liberals across the nation, Christians and people concerned by the text that was drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly.

The government will find it more difficult to implement reforms in securing a $4.8bn loan from the International Monetary Fund without broader support.

BP (LSE: BP.L - news) stocks rise amid oil spill settlement

BP rose 0.5% to 433.05 p as the company and the lead lawyers representing victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill won approval of a proposed $7.8bn partial settlement of claims. The settlement will help cover claims for economic loss and property damage after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and subsequent spill.

British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS.L - news) fell 1% to to 3,112p, contributing the most to the decline in stocks.

PSA Peugeot Citroen (Other OTC: PEUGY - news) has ruled out a merger with General Motors (NYSE: GM - news) ' (GM.N) Opel division as part of their alliance following months of back-and-forth discussions. Investors have been cynical over the planned alliance between the two as the French automaker's finances worsen. The companies have thrown out plans for a joint mid-size car programme but have signed agreements on three other vehicle projects.

Euro/dollar declines

The Euro/dollar dropped 0.05% to the 0.9927 dollar mark at midday.

Front month Brent crude futures fell by 0.212 dollars to the 108.740 dollar mark on the ICE.