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European stocks were little changed as U.S. jobless-benefit claims dropped and home sales climbed to a two-year high, offsetting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments that a budget deal is unlikely.
President Barack Obama is pressing for U.S. lawmakers to craft an interim deal to avert more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff. Republican House leaders hold a conference call with their rank- and-file members today to discuss the path forward, according to a leadership aide who asked for anonymity.
A Labor Department report showed fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance last week. Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 12,000 to 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. Economists forecast 360,000.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 13 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 (CAC) rallied 0.6 percent, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 was little changed.
Clariant rose 3 percent to 12.20 Swiss francs after selling units for 502 million francs ($550 million). The specialty chemicals maker said it will get approximately 460 million francs in cash for selling the textile chemicals, paper specialties and emulsions businesses to SK Capital Partners, a U.S. buyout company.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) gained 1.1 percent to 73.46 euros. Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said he is confident the carmaker has surpassed its 2011 profit total, according to a report by Die Welt.
A gauge of mining shares on the Stoxx 600 advanced 0.7 percent. Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) rose 0.9 percent to 3,541.5 pence and 0.8 percent to 2,156.5 pence, respectively.
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