LONDON Dec 21 Weaker bank stocks led European
shares lower on Friday, with equity markets hit by new signs the
United States may fail to reach a deal to avoid growth-sapping
Equities fell after the U.S. Republican party failed
overnight to back a plan aimed at averting a "fiscal cliff" of
looming tax hikes and government spending cuts that could hit
the U.S. economy next year.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index
provisionally closed down 0.3 percent at 1,138.90 points,
although it was still close to a 19-month high of 1,144.15
points reached earlier this week.
The STOXX 600 European banking index was among the
worst-performing sectors, declining by 1 percent with UK bank
shares falling after a parliamentary report warned the sector
may need tougher regulation.
"The market just stopped in its tracks after that unexpected
announcement last night," said Berkeley Futures associate
director Richard Griffiths.
"But it's showing resilience. It's not down by that much and
people think it's just a delay before they reach a deal in maybe
three weeks time," he added.