LONDON - European equity indices fell from multi-month highs on Thursday after new signs of friction in U.S. budget talks, with many traders looking to sell shares after recent rallies to lock in profits before the year-end.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which closed near a fresh 19-month high on Wednesday, slipped 0.2% to 1 139.95 points, while the eurozone's Euro STOXX 50 index fell 0.4% to 2 644.75 points.
Mobile network maker Ericsson led fallers on the index as it declined by 2.3% after announcing a fourth quarter write-down, hurting other technology stocks and causing the STOXX 600 technology sector to fall 0.8%.
US politicians remain locked in talks to find a deal to avoid a fiscal cliff of government spending cuts and tax rises due to take effect in early 2013 that could hurt the world's largest economy.
"We're opening in the red this morning because of the failure to come to any concrete deal on the fiscal cliff," said Central Markets senior broker, Joe Neighbour.
"If there are profits to be had, we'll be looking to take them off the table. The dip buyers still seem to be there to look to take the market back up but we'll be looking to keep flat as we go into the new year," he added.
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