European stocks steady, euro at $1.29 on German data

European stock markets steadied and the euro briefly topped $1.29 on Friday as dealers reacted to rebounding German business confidence and an EU budget-impasse amid the US Thanksgiving holiday.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index edged up 0.09 percent to 5,795.99 points nearing midday in London, as Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.04 percent to 7,248.01 points and the Paris CAC 40 eased 0.03 percent to 3,497.16.

The euro gained to $1.2900 from $1.2884 late in New York on Thursday, and after the European single currency had reached a three-week high at $1.2915 in early London trading.

On the London Bullion Market, gold prices rose to $1,734.22 an ounce from $1,731 on Thursday.

"The release of a stronger than expected German IFO survey added a clear upward push to the euro's performance," said Rabobank analyst Jane Foley.

Business confidence in Germany made a surprise return in November, data suggested on Friday, after falling for six months amid the eurozone debt crisis.

The Ifo economic institute's closely watched business climate index rose to 101.4 points in November from 100.0 points a month earlier, contrary to analysts' expectations.

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had anticipated the indicator slipping to 99.5 points.

The data came EU leaders looked set to throw in the towel on Friday as talks on a trillion-euro budget for the 27-member bloc faltered over tensions between rich and poor states and Britain's demands for austerity.

"While European leaders haggle about the next EU budget for the next seven years, European economic data has continued to deteriorate, even though today's better than expected German IFO numbers have prompted a sliver of optimism," said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at trading group CMC Markets.

On Thursday, a closely-watched survey by research firm Markit showed the eurozone's manufacturing activity in November little changed from lows experienced in October.

And at the start of the week, France was rocked by a credit ratings downgrade from Moody's. Eurozone finance chiefs have meanwhile failed to strike a deal to unlock the latest batch of bailout cash for indebted Greece and will try again Monday.

In Asia, stock markets mostly closed higher on Friday following a rally in the previous session, while dealers awaited the new meeting on Greece's bailout and the resumption of talks on the US fiscal cliff, dealers said.

Trade was subdued also owing to a public holiday in Japan that closed markets there, while dealers sat tight ahead of negotiations between US Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a deal on the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that comes into effect on January 1.

"The softening in the dollar this week appears to be at least in part a function of more constructive rhetoric surrounding the fiscal cliff negotiations," said Foley.

"However, positive rhetoric is not enough and given that Congress is due to break for a holiday in just four weeks time, the market can be expected to becoming increasingly hungry for a conclusion to the fiscal cliff talks," she added.

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