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Oil prices fell in late trading to close lower after being up most of the day on U.S. supply concerns, the slumping dollar and mounting tensions in Pakistan and northern Iraq.
Business activity in the U.S. Midwest expanded in December at a faster rate than expected, a report showed Friday.
European shares were broadly lower Friday, as weakness in banking stocks dampened investor sentiment, but U.S. stocks made firm gains at the open on the Wall Street.
Buyers hesitantly returned to stocks. But a flight to quality after the murder of Pakistani opposition leader Bhutto kept gold up, while oil also rose.
Most Asian markets closed lower Friday as investors were rattled by the assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, and data pointed to continuing economic weakness in the United States.
British house prices fell for a second straight month in December, taking the annual rate of inflation down to its lowest since May 2006, a survey showed on Friday, in further evidence of a housing market slowdown.
Benazir Bhutto's killing will boost perceived risk in nuclear-armed Pakistan, analysts warned, but some said it was not in itself surprising enough to substantially change investor sentiment.
Analysts say the shock of the Bhutto news triggered a classic capital flight to assets that are considered safe havens in times of geopolitical stress.
Oil rose past $97 a barrel before pulling back to just below that mark Thursday, as U.S. crude stocks fell and geopolitical tension mounted after the killing of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
U.S. consumer confidence rose slightly in December with a marginal improvement in the outlook for business conditions, employment and inflation, according to a private report on Thursday.
Weak durable goods orders last month fueled concern on Thursday over the resilience of the U.S. economy to the country's steep housing slump.
U.S. mortgage applications sank last week to the lowest level since the end of last year despite falling borrowing costs, an industry trade group said Thursday.
Asian closed mixed, with some boosted by resources companies such as BHP Billiton as oil and commodities prices firmed. But Tokyo closed down, staying on course to end the year as the world's worst performing major stock market.
Every political underdog who breaks through faces a choice: keep doing what worked for a long shot, or shift tactics in reaching for a victory that suddenly appears possible? Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, faces that choice right now.
The U.S. dollar slid against the euro in thin trade Wednesday while the yen traded near seven-week lows as investors continued to fund carry trades by borrowing the Japanese currency.
Oil prices jumped Wednesday on supply concerns stoked by a new round of Turkish airstrikes in northern Iraq and a growing belief that domestic oil inventories fell last week.
The bodies of a California businessman, his teenage daughter and the Panamanian pilot of a plane that crashed over the weekend were found Tuesday in Panama's mountains, officials said.
With Detroit essentially shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year's, it's a good time to step back and hand out "The Rodneys": The car and auto brands that -- taking a note from comedian Rodney Dangerfield -- don't get enough respect, according to you, the reader.
Asian stocks were mostly higher in the afternoon session Wednesday. Trade was thin as many investors were away for Christmas holidays. Japan closed higher be South Korea declined. Other Asian markets including Australia and Hong Kong were shut, and many markets in Europe will also be closed.
Japanese stocks closed at their highest in nearly two weeks Tuesday as investors picked up recently pressured shares such as Sony, encouraged by a softening yen and after news from Merrill Lynch prompted a rally on Wall Street.
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