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World stocks mixed on stronger data, weaker earnings

US and European stocks ended little changed on Friday as weak corporate earnings offset better US economic data, though investors remained concerned about slowing global growth, while shares in Asia and Australia ended the week with losses.

Poor earnings outlooks from major companies such as Apple and Amazon, South Korea's Samsung, and Renault and Ericsson in Europe contrasted with better US third-quarter economic growth and signs of improvement in China's economy.

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Australian shares are expected to open higher when trade resumes on Monday. On the ASX24, the SPI futures contract closed 18 points higher to 4483. The Australian dollar fell more than half a US cent amid weaker performances on regional equity markets. It was trading at $US1.0312 late on Friday afternoon.

Market sentiment was driven by a reading of US economic growth released on Friday. The world's largest economy grew at a 2.0 per cent annual rate in the July-September quarter following the second quarter's slump to 1.3 per cent, the Commerce Department said.


But the pace of expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) - a measure of the nation's goods and services output - was modest, and only half that seen in the final quarter of 2011.

On Wall Street, Apple's stock pulled back sharply from the session low, although it still ended down 0.9 per cent at $US604. The world's largest publicly traded company surprised analysts late Thursday with its weak margin outlook, as well as with its quarterly earnings and iPad sales that fell short of expectations. The stock had fallen as low as $US591 in Friday's session.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average had edged up 0.03 per cent to 13,107.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was off 0.07 per cent at 1,411.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.06 per cent to 2,987.95. For the week, the Dow was down 1.8 per cent, the S&P 500 was down 1.5 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 0.6 per cent.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 index of top companies closed up 0.03 per cent to 5,806.71 points, while Frankfurt DAX 30 gained 0.44 per cent to 7,231.85 points, and in Paris the CAC 40 climbed 0.69 per cent to 3,435.09 points. Madrid's IBEX 35 ended down 0.05 per cent.

European stocks had fallen earlier in the day on disappointing US corporate results and record Spanish unemployment. Official data from Spain showed that its jobless rate broke the 25-per cent barrier for the first time as austerity cuts squeezed the recession-struck economy.

Locally on Friday, shares drifted lower to close with a 2 per cent loss for the week, with the mining sector being sold off after new data showed Chinese economic growth slowed for the seventh consecutive quarter in September. But the slowdown matched what many economists had been forecasting, and showed an improvement in quarter-on-quarter growth, which helped to cap losses on the ASX.

For the week, the S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 98.6 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 4472.4 points.

Losses on the Australian bourse were matched by losses elsewhere in Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.2 per cent, snapping 10 days of gains. China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 1.7 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 1.4 per cent after the yen strengthened from a four-month low.

BLOOMBERG, Reuters with BusinessDay