Stocks edge lower at the open

POSTED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 10:09am
UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2012 - 10:13am

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks inched lower at the opening bell Friday as signs of strength in the Chinese economy were offset by mixed economic data in the United States and Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 0.1%, while the the S&P 500 declined 0.3%. The Nasdaq fell 0.6%.

As usual, the gridlock in Washington remains at the forefront of investors' minds. While many expect a last-minute compromise, the latest rhetoric from both sides suggests the talks are far from over.

U.S. stocks tumbled Thursday as uncertainty over the nation's fiscal policy trumped upbeat economic reports.

On the economic front, industrial production jumped 1.1% in November, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Economists had expected a 0.3% gain, but the data appeared to reflect a rebound in production in the month after Hurricane Sandy.

Separately, U.S. consumer prices fell 0.3% in November, the Commerce Department said. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and gas priced, edged up 0.1% last month.

Shares of software firm Adobe Systems surged following quarterly earnings that beat expectations. Investors will also be watching UBS after published reports indicated the bank faces a $1 billion Libor-related penalty.

Best Buy shares sank after CNBC reported that the company's board has agreed to extend the deadline for a takeover bid by ex-CEO and Best Buy founder Richard Schulze.

Apple shares were down in early trading after UBS lower its 2013 earnings per share estimate for the company.

Facebook shares were also in the red, as investors gear up for another lockup expiration. About 156 million shares held by Facebook employees will be released into the market following a lockup period.

European markets were mixed Friday afternoon. A survey of purchasing managers in the euro area edged up to 47.3 in November from 46.5 in October, according to preliminary data from Markit. The eurozone composite PMI, which reflects activity in manufacturing and the services sector, has increased for two months in a row and stands at a 9-month high.

Asian markets mostly ended higher. The Shanghai Composite was an outlier, adding a banner 4.3% on strong manufacturing data and talk that Beijing may allow funds to buy more securities.

A new analysis by a United Nations agency stated if the U.S. falls off the cliff, some Asian countries could see growth decline by up to 2.2 percentage points, with particularly negative ramifications for export-based economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

GDP growth in China, now the world's second largest economy, could slow by nearly one percentage point in the worst-case scenario.

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