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AAP

2012-12-14

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks slipped after more signs of tension emerged from federal budget talks in Washington.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 83 points at 13,162 heading into the final hour of trade.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 10 points at 1,418 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 25 points at 2,988.

In Washington, House Speaker John Boehner said the White House was so resistant to cutting government spending that it risked pushing the country off the "fiscal cliff."

The "cliff" is tax increases and government spending cuts that take effect on January 1 unless Congress and the White House reach a deal to avert them.

President Barack Obama said a deal was "still a work in progress."

Asked about Boehner's assertion that he was waiting to hear more from the president, Obama said only, "Merry Christmas."

Stocks fell despite the fourth straight weekly drop in applications for unemployment benefits.

Applications fell 29,000 last week to 343,000, the second-lowest this year, the Labor Department reported.

LONDON - Europe's main stock markets fell as investors digested more US Federal Reserve monetary easing and an EU deal to give the European Central Bank (ECB) supervisory powers over the banking sector.

Sentiment was soothed somewhat as the European Union also cleared long-delayed bailout funds needed to avert a potentially disastrous Greek debt default.

London's FTSE 100 index of top companies closed 0.27 per cent lower at 5,929.61 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index fell 0.43 per cent to 7,581.98 and in Paris the CAC 40 slipped by 0.10 per cent to 3,643.13 points.

HONG KONG - Asian stock markets were mixed as the US Federal Reserve announced fresh monetary easing and said it would not lift interest rates until unemployment was under control.

However, the head of the central bank, Ben Bernanke, said the looming fiscal cliff of huge tax hikes and deep spending cuts was already hitting the economy.

The yen continued its slide ahead of the weekend's general election in Japan that is expected to see a victory for the opposition, whose leader has vowed to press for more aggressive measures to kick-start growth.

Tokyo climbed 1.68 per cent, or 161.27 points, to an eight-month high of 9,742.73 as major exporters gained on the yen's dip.

Seoul was up 1.38 per cent or 27.33 points, at 2,002.77.

Hong Kong lost 0.26 per cent, breaking a three-day rally that saw the market hit a 16-month high. The index eased 57.77 points to close at 22,445.58.

Shanghai fell 1.02 per cent, or 21.25 points, to 2,061.48.

WELLINGTON - New Zealand shares fell as investors continued to take profits. The NZX 50 fell 20.53 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 3,974.72.