Stocks little changed, dollar slips

Updated 08 December 2012
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Stocks little changed, dollar slips

NEW YORK: Global shares were little changed yesterday after a surprisingly strong US jobs report for November was tempered by a drop in American consumer sentiment.
The dollar trimmed its early gains after a report that senior European Central Bank Executive Board members opposed a rate cut supported by the majority at the ECB's most recent policy meeting earlier in the week.
US non-farm employment increased by 146,000 jobs last month, data showed, defying expectations of a sharp pull-back related to superstorm Sandy that hit the US Northeast.
"The gain was sharper than expected, particularly in light of the hurricane, so certainly something that was a pleasant surprise. We'll take it," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"We will just have to see overall how much of an effect one number can have on what is really a market that is pointing toward Washington and 'fiscal cliff' negotiations,"
Wall Street was mixed by the late morning after data showed consumers' attitudes soured in early December because of concerns about spending cuts and tax increases that will be triggered in 2013 unless US lawmakers can agree to a deal.
"While it is just one measure of consumer sentiment, maybe the constant barrage of back and forth in DC with no resolution yet is having an impact," said Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28.83 points, or 0.22 percent, at 13,102.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.25 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,412.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 18.68 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,970.59.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares and the MSCI world equity index were both flat.
The dollar soared to session peaks immediately following the jobs data, but the momentum faded as traders parsed the details. The euro further pared losses against the dollar as traders cited a Market News International report on the ECB's interest rate decision.
The euro had earlier been under pressure after Germany's central bank cut its growth outlook and pointed to risks of a recession as the three-year-old debt crisis takes its toll on the region's largest economy.
The euro fell to a session low of $ 1.2878 on Reuters data, matching the low set on Nov. 28. It was last down at $ 1.2945. The dollar index was up 0.1 percent, off earlier gains.
The bleak warning from the Bundesbank came just a day after the ECB slashed its own economic forecasts for the entire 17-nation euro area next year, while leaving its main interest rate at a record low 0.75 percent for the fifth month running.
The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was down 9/32, the yield at 1.6164 percent.
Uncertainty over whether US lawmakers will agree on a deal to avert spending cuts and tax increases was likely to continue to keep investors on edge. Any signs of how the talks are progressing could cause fluctuations in the markets.
Talks have come down negotiations between Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner and President Barack Obama, according to Capitol Hill aides.
"I think the market has priced in an expectation that something may get done, and if it doesn't it would be done shortly after January first, so I don't see any worries in the market," said Jeff Meyerson, head of trading for Sunrise Securities in New York.


France’s Total boosts Cypriot gas plan as it eyes Iran exit

Updated 3 min 18 sec ago
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France’s Total boosts Cypriot gas plan as it eyes Iran exit

  • French energy company Total says it is looking to expand its search for natural gas off Cyprus’ south coast
  • Total is partners with Eni to search for oil and gas in two other areas off Cyprus

NICOSIA: French energy company Total says it is looking to expand its search for natural gas off Cyprus’ south coast and seeks to secure another exploratory drilling license, days after warning it could exit Iran over renewed US sanctions there.
Stephane Michel, Total’s Middle East exploration chief, said Monday that the company has applied for a license to search for hydrocarbons in Block 8, an area south of Cyprus where Italian company Eni is already licensed to carry out exploratory drilling.
Total is partners with Eni to search for oil and gas in two other areas off Cyprus. In one of the two, Eni said in February it has discovered a “promising” gas deposit with similar geological features as that of another discovery in Egyptian waters it described as the largest ever in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis called Total’s move an “important development” that expands the company’s exploration footprint off Cyprus.
Lakkotrypis said what gives the move added weight is the fact that Total’s interest comes three months after Turkish warships blocked a drillship from carrying out exploratory drilling by Eni in Block 3, an area southeast of Cyprus.
“After all that happened in Block 3, we see one of the most important partners of the Cyprus Republic wanting to expand its presence inside the Exclusive Economic Zone, especially in an area like Block 8 which is still unexplored.”
Turkey opposes what it calls a “unilateral” gas search by the ethnically divided island’s Greek Cypriot-run government, insisting that it flouts the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to natural resources. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and claims parts of exploration areas south of Cyprus which it says fall within its continental shelf.
The Cyprus government says any potential gas proceeds will be shared equitably with Turkish Cypriots after an accord reunifying the island is reached.
A deposit discovered off Cyprus by Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 is estimated to contain around 4.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Total’s move also comes just days after it said it would have to withdraw multi-billion-dollar project in Iran unless it is granted a waiver by US authorities. The group said it cannot afford to be exposed to US sanctions, including the loss of financing by American banks.