* C$ at C$1.0030 vs US$ or 99.70 U.S. cents * U.S. fiscal cliff, Europe still in focus * U.S. retail sales fall in October By Claire Sibonney TORONTO, Nov 14 The Canadian dollar eased against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as investors fixated on the uncertainty over U.S. budget negotiations and Europe's debt crisis. Taking a hard line in his opening bid before he begins fiscal talks with U.S. lawmakers later in the week, President Barack Obama pushed for his proposal to have the wealthy pay more taxes as a way to tame the federal deficit. Investors are wary of the impact that a scheduled $600 billion in tax hikes and severe spending cuts would have on the U.S. economy if Obama and Congress fail to agree on a plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. "We are in a risk-off type of environment, and I think this will probably be the case until there's a little more clarity on the U.S. fiscal cliff," said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities in Montreal. Investors were also awaiting any signs of progress in approving aid for Greece, while a wave of strikes across Europe to protest against spending cuts and tax hikes kept the focus on the region's debt crisis. At 2:51 p.m. (1851 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading at C$1.0030 versus the U.S. dollar, or $0.9970, softer than Tuesday's North American finish of C$1.0019, or $0.9981. Adding to the cautious sentiment, the U.S. government reported retail sales fell in October for the first time in three months as Superstorm Sandy slammed the brakes on automobile purchases, suggesting spending lost momentum early in the fourth quarter. Market players were more concerned, however, with how the United States will avert potential fiscal constraint in early 2013 that threatens to throw the world's biggest economy back into recession. "That's by and large the main theme that's been filtering through the markets," said Mazen Issa, macro strategist at TD Securities. Prices for Canadian government debt were little changed across the curve, mostly underperforming U.S. Treasuries. The two-year bond was up half a Canadian cent to yield 1.075 percent, while the benchmark 10-year bond was down 4 Canadian cents to yield 1.698 percent.