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UK Market Modestly Lower

The UK market is modestly lower in afternoon trading Friday, amid investor reaction to some broker comments. The Asian markets closed higher, while the U.S. index futures are lower.

Eurozone finance ministers on Thursday decided to accelerate the payment to the region's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, underlining their commitment to immediately resolve the debt crisis.

They also expressed their readiness to aid Greece using money from the second rescue package, but on condition that Greece completes the debt write-off deal with its private lenders in the coming week.

Meanwhile the EU leaders today signed the fiscal compact treaty at the European Council, which is meeting in Brussels.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is losing 0.04 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is adding 0.01 percent.

The FTSE 100 index is losing 0.23 percent.

Barclays is up 3.1 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland is up 1.3 percent. Goldman Sachs raised European banks to "Overweight" from "Neutral."

The brokerage also raised European utilities to "Overweight" from "Neutral." International Power is gaining 3.4 percent.

IMI is up 3.4 percent after reporting higher adjusted profit and a 12 percent growth in revenues for 2011.

Among miners, Kazakhmys is losing 3.6 percent and Xstrata is losing 1.2 percent.

Man Group is advancing about 3 percent.

Rentokil Initial is plunging 7.7 percent. The pest control-to-carrier services provider reported an annual loss as its City Link parcel service continued to disappoint.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is falling 0.20 percent. The French CAC 40 is rising 0.12 percent and Switzerland's SMI is up 0.01 percent.

In economic news, German retail turnover fell by the most since May 2011 in January, defying expectations for sales growth. According to provisional results published by the Federal Statistical Office on Friday, retail turnover was down by an adjusted 1.6 percent month-over-month in January in contrast to a 0.5 percent increase expected by economists.

Eurozone producer price inflation eased to 3.7 percent year-on-year in January from 4.3 percent in December, Eurostat said. The rate stayed above the consensus forecast of 3.6 percent.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets ended higher. Australia's All Ordinaries added 0.42 percent, China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.4 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.81 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.72 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the Dow edged up 0.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.6 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for April delivery is sliding $0.73 to $108.11 per barrel and April gold is falling $6.2 to $1716 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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