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Fiscal Cliff Worries Weigh On European Markets

The European markets are mostly lower on the last trading day of the year as fiscal cliff concerns continue to impact investor sentiment. Many markets, including the Frankfurt stock exchange, are closed for trading, while the markets in London and Paris are holding half-day sessions.

The CAC 40 index is advancing 0.4 percent while the FTSE 100 index is losing 0.5 percent.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.11 percent. The Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is rising 0.02 percent.

In Paris, Essilor International is gaining 1 percent. Loreal, Pernod-Ricard and Danone are moderately higher.

Those seeing moderate gains include hotel group Accor and speed-train maker Alstom.

Credit Agricole is losing 0.5 percent, while BNP Paribas and Societe Generale are in positive territory.

An indicator of China's manufacturing sector performance rose to its highest level in 19 months in December, suggesting that economic recovery is taking hold after more than two years of lackluster performance.

The HSBC manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 51.5 in December from 50.5 in November. This was higher than the flash reading of 50.9.

However, in London, mining firms were lower despite positive data from China.

Melrose Industries is falling 1.9 percent. Capital Shopping Centres is losing 1.7 percent and Admiral Group is sliding 1.4 percent.

North River Resources is declining 1.9 percent. The company announced the resignation of David Steinepreis as Managing Director and a board director, effective immediately.

ViaLogy is dropping 4 percent after posting a wider first-half loss.

Across Asia/Pacific, many major markets are closed. China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.6 percent on robust manufacturing data, while Hong Kong ended on a flat after a half-day trading session.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 lost half a percent in half-day trading, with miners and banks leading the decliners ahead of the New Year's Day holiday.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open. In the previous session, the major averages accelerated to the downside going into the close, amid fiscal cliff worries. The Dow plunged 1.2 percent, the Nasdaq fell 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 slid 1.1 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for February delivery is flat at $90.80 per barrel and February gold is rising $9.4 to $1665.3 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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