In other news
US stock index futures have slipped, setting Wall St up for a third day of losses as investors await data that may provide clues on how soon tapering will start.
Europe's main stock markets have slipped in the wake of losses across Asia and on Wall St, and with all eyes on the Federal Reserve's position over stimulus.
The Vatican has made progress in financial reforms but still risks being used for money laundering unless it strengthens controls, says a European watchdog.
Gold has inched up as some safe-haven bids emerged after equities and the dollar dropped on fears over an early end to the US's monetary stimulus.
Brent futures have dropped towards $109 a barrel as a looming US budget deal backed expectations the Federal Reserve may soon unwind its stimulus programme.
Former Israeli central bank governor Stanley Fischer has been offered the position of vice chair of the US Federal Reserve, according to a source.
The rand has fallen to its weakest this week, mirroring a sell-off in risky assets as the market awaits producer inflation data as well as key US economic data.
Shares have fallen for a second straight session, with trading volumes starting to thin out ahead of the Christmas holidays.