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Stock markets fell Wednesday as investors paused for breath following recent gains, with a long-awaited US tax cut plan moving near the finish line. 
Equities have been on a broad upswing since last week when holdout Republican senators said they would back President Donald Trump’s signature tax legislation. The American leader has promised that the reforms will further fire up an already healthy US economy.
After months of uncertainty, the US Senate narrowly passed the deal, which slashes taxes across the board.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday, but will have to vote again Wednesday owing to a rules mix-up. 
Despite the expected passage of the bill, stocks prices on Wall Street were treading water on Wednesday, taking a breather after a series of recent record closes.
‘With equity markets having risen more than 25 percent since Trump’s election victory, at least in part due to his tax reform plans, it’s likely that this is almost entirely priced in at this point,’ said Oanda analyst, Craig Erlam.
‘It will be interesting to see whether the rally can now be maintained until the end of the year, or whether the Santa rally will instead grind to a premature halt as investors lock in some profits.’ 
IG analyst Chris Beauchamp also felt it was no surprise ‘that markets are not exactly going crazy with excitement, since all the fun had been priced in.’
Expectations that the massive reduction in corporate taxes would boost company profits had previously helped fuel a surge in global equities. 
In European deals on Wednesday, London stocks ended the session 0.3 percent lower, Paris shed 0.6 percent and Frankfurt was down by 1.1 percent. 
In Asia, Tokyo and Sydney stock markets each ended up 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong lost 0.1 percent and Shanghai closed down 0.3 percent.
Bitcoin dives
Elsewhere, bitcoin plunged around 15 percent Wednesday on news that an exchange in South Korea – where many cryptocurrency traders live – had gone bust.
The unit, which hit a record peak of $19,500 at the start of the week, took a hit as it emerged that Youbit had been hacked, leading the firm to say it would close and enter bankruptcy.
Also on Tuesday, US authorities suspended trading in a popular bitcoin-related stock, citing concerns about market manipulation. The Crypto Company’s share price had risen 1,700 percent between the end of September and Monday evening before the Securities and Exchange Commission intervened to halt trades until January 4.
Bitcoin has soared almost 30-fold since the start of the year and this month saw it move into the mainstream as two major US exchanges began trading futures in the unit.
Key figures around 1640 GMT
New York – DOW: FLAT at 24,758.61 points
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,525.22 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.1 percent at 13,069.17 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,352.77 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,552.65
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,891.72 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 29,234.09 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,287.61 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1879 from $1.1852 
Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.3405
Dollar/yen: UP at 113.30 yen from 113.16 yen 
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 46 cents at $64.26 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 38 cents at $57.94