PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) - European shares were broadly
steady on Monday, consolidating their sharp gains made in the
past five weeks, with volumes set to be thin for the
traditionally quiet half-session ahead of the Christmas break.
A number of European markets such as the French, Dutch,
Spanish and UK ones will only trade for half the session on
Monday, while trading in Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece,
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland will be closed.
At 0805 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top
European shares was down 0.04 percent at 1,138.56 points, still
just a few points shy of an 19-month high of 1,144.15 hit last
UK's FTSE 100 index was up 0.05 percent, France's
CAC 40 up 0.2 percent and Spain's IBEX down 0.2
Investors remained cautious as talks between Democrats and
Republicans to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff - automatic tax
hikes and spending cuts that could drag the world's biggest
economy back into recession - were stalled on Monday, with U.S.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner out of
Washington for the Christmas holidays.
The FTSEurofirst 300 is set to post a gain of 13.8 percent
for 2012, its best annual performance since the sharp bounce of
2009, boosted by bold measures from central banks to revive
global growth and resolve the euro zone debt crisis.
"This year has been a year of transition, and now it's time
to turn the page and move on, to start picking stocks again for
the long term, companies exposed to the emerging consumer in
places like Asia and Africa," said David Thebault, head of
quantitative sales trading, at Global Equities.