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UK Market Falls

4/3/2012 6:51 AM ET

The UK market is modestly lower in afternoon trading Tuesday as growth worries continued to dissuade investors from buying risky assets. In early trading, sentiment was influenced by China's non-manufacturing sector data. The major Asian markets closed the day mixed, while the U.S. index futures indicate a lower open ahead of a report on factory orders.

The British Chambers of Commerce said the economy is showing signs of improvement and may avoid a recession. Still, economic growth remains "weak," the industry group said. The BCC expects the economy to expand 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2012, after suffering a 0.3 percent contraction in the fourth quarter.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is losing 0.26 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is falling 0.25 percent.

The FTSE 100 index is currently losing 0.15 percent.

Compass Group is losing about 2 percent reportedly on a broker downgrade.

Bunzl is losing 1.6 percent. Publishing group Pearson is declining about 2 percent.

Cairn Energy is climbing 3.5 percent. The company is acquiring Agora Oil & Gas AS, a private Norwegian company with development assets in the UK and Norwegian North Sea, in a cash and stock deal valued at $450 million.

GlaxoSmithKline announced topline results from seven of the eight 'Harmony' Phase III studies investigating the use of albiglutide in type 2 diabetes. The data support progression towards regulatory filings. The stock is up 0.4 percent.

AstraZeneca is advancing 0.7 percent after announcing an agreement with Amgen to jointly develop and commercialize five monoclonal antibodies from Amgen's clinical inflammation portfolio.

Aberdeen Asset Management is advancing 2.4 percent. Morgan Stanley reportedly reiterated its rating on the stock and increased its price target.

Burberry Group is advancing 1.6 percent.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is falling 0.01 percent and the French CAC 40 is losing 0.50 percent. Switzerland's SMI is sliding 0.29 percent.

In economic news, Eurozone producer price inflation eased to 3.6 percent year-on-year in February from a revised 3.8 percent in January, Eurostat said. The inflation rate, nonetheless, stayed above the consensus forecast of 3.5 percent.

Activity in the British Construction sector increased at a notably faster pace in March, contrary to economists' expectations for a slowdown, data from a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply revealed. The seasonally adjusted purchasing managers' index for the construction sector climbed to 56.7 in March from 54.3 in February.

A report published by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that China's non-manufacturing sector expanded in March. The purchasing managers' index for the service sector rose to 58 in March. CFLP last month reported the February reading as 48.4. The Shanghai Composite Index

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.18 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.31 percent while Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.59 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages gave back some ground going into the close but held on to notable gains. The Dow rose 0.4 percent, the Nasdaq advanced 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is sliding $0.86 to $104.37 per barrel and June gold is losing $2.3 to $1677.4 a troy ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

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