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US fiscal cliff risks European shares

Dec 21 2012 11:14 Reuters

Flags of the EU member states fly outside the European Parliament in Brussels. (AFP, File)

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London - European shares fell in early trade on Friday on signs that a deal to avoid growth curbing tax hikes and spending cuts in the United States might not be the forgone conclusion markets were anticipating.

By 10:00, the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 4.36 points, or 0.4% at 1 138.44, taking its cue from overnight falls in the US futures and Asia, triggered when a proposal from Republican leader, John Boehner, to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff failed to get support from his party. 

"The market is still too complacent and the odds are increasing that a deal will not get done in the immediate future," Saxo Bank Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen said.

"That leaves European equities (in terms of earnings multiples) vulnerable to the negative exposure of the fiscal drag and even a compromised deal is going to do very little to structurally reform anything," he said. 

European shares have risen more than 20% since June as central banks have stepped in to backstop the economy and on expectations a budget deal in the U.S. would be struck.

That has left companies struggling to keep up with price-to-earnings multiples which have rerated over the past six months to post credit crisis highs of 12.8 times. 
 

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