Plus   Neg

French Market Marginally Lower

The French market is in negative territory on Friday, as worries related to the U.S. fiscal cliff dominated the news of China's manufacturing activity expanding at the fastest pace in 14 months in December. The Asian markets mostly rose on China data.

In China, the headline HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index rose to 50.9 in December from 50.5 in November. This was the highest reading in 14 months. New orders expanded at a faster pace this month, while new export orders decreased reflecting slackening external demand.

The Eurozone private sector contracted at a slower pace as Germany recovered at the end of the year, survey results from Markit Economics showed. The composite Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a nine-month high of 47.3 in December, from 46.5 in November.

The turnaround is being led by Germany, for which the PMI has already returned to positive territory, said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.10 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, falling 0.08 percent.

The CAC 40 index is currently falling 0.04 percent.

Saint-Gobain is losing 1.4 percent after the building materials maker was cut to ''Neutral'' from ''Buy'' at Citigroup.

Barclays reduced its rating on Total to ''Underweight'' from ''Equalweight.'' The stock is falling 0.9 percent.

Alcatel Lucent is surging 10 percent. The telecom equipment maker said it has entered into commitments with Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs for 1.615 billion euros in senior secured credit facilities.

Citigroup raised Lafarge to ''Buy'' from ''Neutral.'' The cement giant is advancing 1.6 percent.

Jefferies raised Sanofi to ''Buy'' from ''Hold.'' The stock is falling modestly.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is adding 0.3 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.08 percent and Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.12 percent.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets ended mostly higher. China's Shanghai Composite Index soared 4.3 percent after upbeat economic data lifted sentiment. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.7 percent and Australia's All Ordinaries added less than tenth of a percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 bucked the trend and slid 0.1 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the Dow and the S&P 500 dropped about 0.6 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.7 percent, as lingering concerns about the looming fiscal cliff overshadowed a batch of largely upbeat economic data on retail sales and jobless claims.

In the commodity space, crude for January delivery is adding $0.83 to $86.72 per barrel and February gold is advancing $1.3 to $1698.1 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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