U.K. Stocks Little Changed on Reid’s Fiscal-Cliff Remarks

U.K. stocks were little changed, paring earlier gains, after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said America looks to be heading for the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

Evraz Plc advanced 2 percent after winning approval to increase its stake in Russian coal producer OAO Raspadskaya. Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, the maker of Lysol cleaners and Nurofen painkillers, fell 1.3 percent.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 0.12 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 5,954.3 at the close of trading in London, trimming an earlier increase of as much as 0.7 percent. The benchmark gauge is heading for a 6.9 percent gain this year as the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve expanded asset purchases. The broader FTSE All-Share Index and Ireland’s ISEQ Index were also little changed today.

“There is an awful lot of posturing here and I think they will eventually come to some sort of conclusion, but I don’t think it will be before the year-end,” David Buik, a market strategist at Cantor Index Ltd. in London, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview today.

Stocks pared gains after Reid said “nothing’s happening” in budget talks in Washington and the dispute probably won’t be resolved before Jan. 1 because Republicans won’t cooperate.

U.S. President Barack Obama is urging lawmakers to reach an interim deal to avoid more than $600 billion of fiscal changes. House Speaker John Boehner last week scrapped his plan to allow higher tax rates on annual incomes above $1 million, saying it didn’t have enough support among House Republicans.

The volume of shares changing hands in FTSE 100 companies was 40 percent lower than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Economic Data

U.S. Labor Department data showed first-time applications for jobless benefits in the world’s largest economy fell to 350,000 last week from a revised 362,000 the previous week. Economists had forecast 360,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

New-house sales climbed 4.4 percent in November to a 377,000 annual pace, the most since April 2010, following a revised 361,000 rate in October, the Commerce Department reported. The median estimate of 71 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for sales to increase to 380,000.

Figures from the Conference Board showed its consumer confidence index fell to 65.1 in December from a revised 71.5 reading the prior month. The gauge was projected to slip to 70, according to the Bloomberg survey median.

Evraz, ENRC

Evraz rose 2 percent to 259.4 pence, snapping three days of losses. The Russian steelmaker partly owned by Roman Abramovich won approval from Russian regulators to increase its stake in Raspadskaya, according to a statement from Evraz today.

Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., a producer of ferroalloys and iron ore in Kazakhstan, gained 3.7 percent to 289.4 pence. A gauge of commodity shares was the second-best performing group in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

Royal Bank of Scotland Plc led banks higher, gaining 2.5 percent to 325 pence.

Reckitt Benckiser fell 1.3 percent to 3,895 pence for the biggest decline on the FTSE 100.

Diageo Plc, the world’s biggest distiller, dropped 1 percent to 1,809.5 pence. A gauge of food and beverage shares was the worst performer on the Stoxx 600.

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