Europe open: US no closer to budget deal

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LONDON (ShareCast) - - US lawmakers voice concerns over fiscal cliff
- Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to run for office
- Electric Word said trading has met expectations

FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) : -0.91%
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Cac-40: 0.02%
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Stoxx 600: 0.23%

European equities opened little changed Monday after US lawmakers voiced concern that the country would fall off the 'fiscal cliff' in nine days.

The US is yet to reach a budget deal that would prevent considerable spending cuts and tax hikes.

Leaders have fuelled fears that they won't meet the January 1st deadline amid news President Obama and opposition leader John Boehner are not talking and are out of town for the Christmas holidays.

On a more positive note, political tensions have eased in Italy after Prime Minister Mario Monti declared he would seek office early next year if he sees "credible" support for his reform programme.

The announcement Sunday, puts an end to weeks of speculation over his future.

Monti has been hailed for pulling Italy from the brink of a financial meltdown after replacing Silvio Berlusconi just over a year ago. However he has also been slammed for raising taxes and unemployment.

ITV (LSE: ITV.L - news) dips hand further into US market


Electric Word said trading was in line with company expectations following its fundraising in August. The company - which provides training services for the education, healthcare and sport sectors - said the Sport & Gaming division was boosted by the launch of its iGaming Business in the US, in its update ahead of its results for the year ended November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 30th.

ITV is acquiring a 61.5% stake in Gurney Productions, an independent producer of US cable television networks, for $40m. A put and call option for the remaining 38.5% interest can be exercised after three years of the initial deal.

Global medical technology company Smith & Nephew (LSE: SN.L - news) has completed the $782m acquisition of a substantial stake in Healthpoint Biotherapeutics.

Brent crude falls

The Euro/dollar rose a mere 0.0022% to the 1.3210 dollar mark Monday.

Front month Brent crude futures fell by 0.258 dollars to the 108.690 dollar mark on the ICE.