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AVJ, BBG, KMD, MYR, NAB, PSQ,

LONDON, Nov 21 AFP

November 22 2012, 05:09AM

Europe's main stock markets have risen and the euro is steady against the dollar even though eurozone finance chiefs have failed to strike a deal to unlock the latest batch of bailout cash for heavily-indebted Greece.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index closed with a slight gain of 0.07 per cent at 5752.03 points in London, Frankfurt's DAX 30 rose by 0.16 per cent to 7184.71 points and the Paris CAC 40 added 0.44 per cent to 3477.36.

The European single currency was virtually unchanged at $1.2818.

On the London Bullion Market, gold prices fell to $US1724 ($A1667.88) an ounce from $1732.25 late on Tuesday.

"It would surely have been hoping for too much to expect some form of agreement from last night's Eurogroup meeting and so it has proved as the obstacles to an agreement continue to prove politically difficult," said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at CMC Markets trading group.

"And once again markets wait as political theatre takes precedence over economic reality as we still await a decision on the next steps in this long drawn out saga surrounding Greece."

The Eurogroup ministers said in a statement that no deal had been reached and that they would meet Monday "for further technical work on some elements of the package."

Traders had been buying the euro on expectations an agreement would be made.

But the meeting ended with a statement that pointed only to "progress in identifying a consistent package of credible initiatives aimed at making a further substantial contribution to the sustainability of Greek ... debt."

A Commerzbank analyst said: "Last night we were reminded of something that had almost been forgotten following all the 'unlimited' OMT (Outright Monetary Transactions by the European Central Bank) euphoria: with all the political activity surrounding the crisis management in Europe there is always an accident risk."

The major sticking point has been whether to give Greece, which is in desperate need of the 31.2 billion euros ($A38.83 billion) handout, an extra two years to arrive at a point where it can raise its own funds.

In New York, some US stocks gained as Wall Street awaited a batch of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.22 per cent in midday trades, while both the broad-market S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite were essentially unchanged.

On the corporate front on Wednesday, shares in Compass, the world's biggest caterer by sales, fell 1.34 per cent to 699.5 pence after the British company said on Wednesday that its annual net profits dropped 17 per cent owing to the cost of restructuring operations, particularly in troubled eurozone nations.

Profit after tax slid to STG605 million ($A934 million) in the 12 months to September 30 compared with net earnings of STG728 million in 2010/11, Compass said in an earnings statement.

Markets were looking ahead to an extraordinary EU summit on Thursday that was called to finalise a long-term trillion-euro budget.

Already weakened by three years of economic crisis, the 27-nation bloc of half a billion people faces new trauma at the two-day summit after weeks of talks that have exposed stark divisions between pro- and anti-austerity nations.

EU officials raced to find a compromise on a 2014-2020 budget as governments signalled "red lines" and issued veto threats.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU would need to hold a new summit on its budget in early 2013 if leaders failed to agree this week.

"I don't know if we will have a definitive deal tomorrow or the next day - we want that," Merkel told MPs during a debate on Germany's own budget. "If necessary we will have to meet again at the beginning of next year."