Oct 9 - European shares slip to fresh one-month lows as the U.S. political deadlock continues to eat away at investor conviction that the country will avoid a sovereign default. Joanna Partridge asks book makers in Britain what they think the outcome will be?
They're normally picking the winner of the next horse race or football match. But with no end in sight to the U.S. government shutdown, UK punters at William Hill are having a flutter on that far more serious subject. Graham Sharpe, their Media Relations Director, says they have two markets open. SOUNDBITE: Graham Sharpe, Media Relations Director, William Hill, saying (English): "The first one is when will the shutdown finally end. We decided to put the cut-off at October 16th, so initially that was the hot favourite that it would all be over by the 16th, but the odds on that have gradually lengthened. That's now 1/2 favourite and you can now have 6/4 that it runs up to and after the 17th, which started as a 4/1 outsider, so obviously as each day goes you trim the odds slightly. And the other market we put up is whether the U.S. government will default on its debts at any time during 2013. We're fairly confident that it won't happen, that's about 1/4 about that failing to happen and 11/4 that they do have to default." PTC Sporting bets still make up the majority of William Hill's business in its shops and online. But in the world of 24 news channels, they say their customers are increasingly interesting in having a flutter on political and financial events too. SOUNDBITE: Graham Sharpe, Media Relations Director, William Hill, saying (English): "It's never going to rival our turnover on the Grand National, for example, and likewise, even in political terms it's not going to rival something like the U.S. election or even our own general election. But at the same time, it's of very topical interest and it's something that is intriguing to most people, that a situation like this can develop in the world's most important economy." Lack of progress in the political deadlock has been playing on investors' minds. European shares hit one-month lows on Wednesday, attracting some buyers, but the shutdown kept a lid on gains. Nick Parsons from National Australia Bank says markets are also concerned how the situation could hit U.S. GDP. SOUNDBITE: Nick Parsons, Head of Markets Strategy, National Australia Bank, saying (English): "If we assume that the shutdown is three weeks, that's 0.3 in absolute GDP terms, you then have to annualise, so you multiply it by 4, and that's 1.2%. Well that halves the growth rate that we saw in the third quarter of this year." Both sides know it's imperative to end the deadlock as soon as possible - but there are no odds on who will give in first.