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Stocks fluctuate amid China data, US budget talks

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm •  Published: December 14, 2012

LONDON (AP) — World markets were cautious on Friday as concerns over ongoing U.S. budget talks offset the impact of survey showing China's manufacturing production rose to a 14-month high.

European markets struggled after Standard & Poor's lowered its credit outlook on Britain, meaning there is a one in three chance the country could lose its top credit rating over the next year.

Fitch, another credit ratings agency, affirmed France's own top grade but also kept its negative outlook. It said there was a "slightly greater than 50 percent chance of a downgrade" next year.

By the time markets closed in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.13 percent to 5,921.76 while Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 7,596.47. France's CAC-40 was flat at 3,635.38.

Investors largely shrugged off agreements reached Thursday by European Union finance ministers: a compromise to create a single supervisor for banks and an agreement to give Greece desperately needed bailout funds. The decisions, while important to end the continent's crisis, had been expected.

Wall Street was steady after the open — the Dow was down 0.1 percent to 13,153.5 while the S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,415.21.

Asian indexes rose earlier Friday, when HSBC Corp. released its preliminary China Purchasing Managers' Index for December, which rose to 50.9 from November's 50.5. Numbers above 50 represent an expansion of manufacturing.

The improvement in Chinese manufacturing activity suggests global consumer spending may be recovery from a weak patch this year.

"I think it adds further encouragement that China is moving in the right direction," said Andrew Sullivan, an independent analyst based in Hong Kong.

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