GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares flat, oil falls with focus on US 'fiscal cliff'

Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:03am EST

* World shares flat after Fed move to maintain stimulus
    * U.S. government budget talk uncertainty weighs
    * U.S. dollar recovers against most currencies
    * Oil falls on fears of rising inventories, fiscal cliff
talks


    By Herbert Lash
    NEW YORK, Dec 13 (Reuters) - World shares were little
changed but commodity prices slipped on Thursday as investors
looked past the Federal Reserve's announcement of further
monetary stimulus and re-focused on the unresolved showdown over
the U.S. "fiscal cliff."
    Wall Street stocks hovered near break-even as European
equity markets declined, while the U.S. dollar was little
changed against the euro after three days of declines.
    Analysts said news on U.S. government efforts to avert some
$600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes due in January would
drive financial markets after the Fed on Wednesday moved to link
its policy to explicit thresholds on unemployment and inflation.
    Budget negotiations are expected to continue Thursday in
Washington D.C. with Republicans at a growing public opinion
disadvantage and approval ratings for President Barack Obama
rising to levels not seen since the killing of Osama bin Laden.
 
    Data showing U.S. retail sales rose in November and jobless
claims fell sharply last week were hopeful signs on Thursday for
an economy that appears to have slowed sharply in the fourth
quarter, but the news did little to budge the market as
investors were cautious in the face of the ongoing budget
negotiations. 
    "With the suggestion that they're not any closer (to a
budget deal) than they were a few days ago, we're really just in
a market that's trying to figure out what the next catalyst
might be," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward
Jones in St Louis.
    The Dow Jones industrial average was down 13.10
points, or 0.10 percent, at 13,232.35. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 0.59 points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,427.89.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.88 points, or 0.20
percent, at 3,019.70. 
    MSCI's all-country world equity index, which
had seen seven straight days of gains, rose 0.03 percent at
337.90 points.
    In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.38
percent to 1,135.30 points, ending a three-week rally that had
pushed prices to 18-month highs. 
    Crude oil prices slipped under $109 a barrel due to rising
U.S. oil stockpiles, while fears that the world's largest
economy might miss a deadline for next year's budget and risk a
recession also kept bulls in check.
    Benchmark Brent crude fell 51 cents to $108.99 a
barrel, but U.S. crude rebounded, rising 4 cents to
$86.81.
    The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB Index, which
tracks 19 commodity markets, was down 0.36 percent at 294.1174.
    The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was
down 9/32 in price to yield 1.7334 percent.
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