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AAP

2012-12-11

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - Stocks inched higher a strong sales report from McDonald's helped offset concerns about the surprise resignation of Italy's prime minister, Mario Monti.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 24 points at 13,179 leading into the final hour of trade.

The Standard and Poor's 500 was up one point at 1,419 and the Nasdaq composite was up eight points at 2,986.

McDonald's shares rose as US customers bought more breakfast offerings and limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.

Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Palm Beach, Florida-based Banyan Partners, said it was encouraging to see signs of strength in the restaurant chain.

Monti, who has been credited with restoring confidence in Italy's economy, announced that he would step down after former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party dropped its support.

Italian government bond yields, a critical measure of how much the country has to pay to borrow, jumped.

Concern that the European debt crisis was enveloping Italy, one of the euro region's largest economies, helped stymie markets around the world earlier in the year.

Investors will also watch for developments in the budget talks in Washington.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House Sunday to discuss the budget, while rank-and-file Republicans stepped forward with what they called pragmatic ideas to break the stalemate.

LONDON - European stock markets mostly rose, though shares in Milan plunged after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his intention to resign in the latest twist to the eurozone debt crisis.

Milan's FTSE Mib benchmark index of top companies slumped 2.22 per cent to 15,354 points at the close while Italian government borrowing costs spiked on the back of the political uncertainty.

Madrid's IBEX 35 index in debt-hit Spain plummeted along with Milan in early trade, but nearly clawed back to positive territory, ending the day down 0.56 per cent to 7,805 points.

Trading elsewhere edged upwards at the close with London's FTSE 100 index of leading companies 0.12 per cent higher at 5,921.63 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 gaining 0.17 per cent to 7,530.92 points, and the Paris CAC 40 finishing up 0.18 per cent to 3,612.10 points.

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly rose as dealers cheered an improvement in the US unemployment rate and another batch of manufacturing figures indicating China's economy is emerging from a slumber.

Investors appeared unmoved by figures confirming Japan's economy shrank in the three months to September, as traders keep their sights on Sunday's general election, which is expected to see Yoshihiko Noda's government ousted.

Tokyo ended flat, edging up 0.07 per cent, or 6.36 points, to 9,533.75.

Seoul also closed flat, losing 0.03 points to 1,957.42.

Hong Kong gained 0.39 per cent, or 85.55 points, to close at 22,276.72, while Shanghai rose 1.07 per cent, or 21.98 points, to 2,083.77 as investors shrugged off a weak set of trade figures on Monday.

WELLINGTON - The NZX 50 Index fell 10.75 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,030.77.