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Dec. 14, 2012 at 7:31 PM
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U.S. stocks end lower Friday

NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes finished lower Friday on concerns over the lack of a U.S. budget deal, analysts said.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 35.71 points, 0.27 percent, to 13,135.01, at the close of trading.

The Standard and Poor's 500 was down 5.87 points, 0.41 percent, to 1,413.58. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite was down 20.83 points, or 0.70 percent, to 2,971.33. Concern about slowing demand for Apple products pushed the technology giant's stock down 3.8 percent.

The U.S. Labor Department said the cost of living fell 0.3 percent in November, slightly higher than forecasts. The Federal Reserve said U.S. industrial production was up 1.1 percent last month, also higher than expected, factories resumed production following Hurricane Sandy.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,429 stocks advanced and 1,599 declined on a volume of 3.196 billion shares traded.

London's FTSE 100 was down 7.85 points, 0.13 percent, to 5,921.76.

Japan's Nikkei average closed down 5.17 points, 0.05 percent, to 9,737.56.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 8/32 to yield 1.708 percent.

The yen was trading at 83.51, down from Thursday's 83.65. The euro rose to $1.3162 from Thursday's $1.3077.

Glidden, Olympic to join PPG paint lineup

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- PPG Industries says it plans to purchase part of the North American operations of the Dutch firm AkzoNobel, maker of Glidden paints.

The deal, valued at $1.05 billion, is expected to close in second quarter 2013. PPG said AkzoNobel is the leading architectural coatings company in Canada and one of the leaders in the Caribbean.

Leading AkzoNobel brands involved in the deal include Glidden, Flood, Liquid Nail, Sico and Cil. PPG will also license the brands Dulux, Devoe and Sikkens.

PPG Industries, founded in 1883 as the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., is a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, chemicals, glass and fiberglass. Its products include PPG Pittsburgh Paints and Olympic Paints brands in North America.

"This acquisition continues the accelerated pace of our business portfolio transformation through further expansion of our coatings businesses," Charles E. Bunch, PPG chairman and chief executive officer, said Friday in a statement. "It is also an attractive way to significantly increase our scale in the North American architectural paint market, which we anticipate will benefit from a prolonged construction market recovery."

The acquired business had 2011 revenues of about $1.5 billion, PPG said. The acquisition includes the addition of about 600 AkzoNobel-owned paint stores, which will give PPG a combined network of about 1,000 company-owned stores serving the North American market.

"It also complements PPG's national home center strategy by extending our branded paint product offerings to more than 8,000 retail outlets," Bunch said.

EU downturn easing in Germany

LONDON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Business activity in the European Union suggests the eurozone's downturn may be easing, data firm Markit indicated Friday.

The Markit Eurozone Purchasing Managers' Index reached a nine-month high in December, stated the firm's flash estimate, which was at 47.3 from 46.5 in November.

The PMI suggests the downturn may have reached its strongest in October, although the survey continues to signal a steep overall rate of decline, with business activity levels having fallen in 15 of the past 16 months.

Markit said the turnaround is being led by Germany, for which the PMI has returned to positive territory. The rates of decline in France and the rest of the region, however, remain "worryingly severe," Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said Friday in statement.

Output rose for the first time in eight months in Germany, though an upturn in the service sector was offset by a faster decline in manufacturing production. Output fell for the 10th consecutive month in France but the rate of decline was the slowest since August.

Looking at the entire eurozone, output continued to fall in manufacturing and services, though in both cases the rate of decline showed signs of moderating. Although goods production fell at a pace unchanged in November, the previous month's decline was the smallest for seven months. The rate of decline in service sector activity, meanwhile, eased to its weakest since July.

The rate of decline of new business slowed for the third month in a row, indicating companies continued to face steeply deteriorating demand for goods and services, Markit said.

The rate of job losses slowed in December, hitting the lowest since August.

Optimism jumped to a seven-month high in Germany and edged up to a four-month peak in France but fell back slightly elsewhere across the eurozone.

"The eurozone downturn showed further signs of easing in December, adding to hopes that the outlook for next year is brightening. It looks like the downturn reached its fiercest back in October, since when the PMI has turned up steadily by no means spectacularly," Williamson said.

Williamson said a return to growth "is looking like an increasing possibility in the first half of next year, barring any surprises, if the recent improvements in the survey data can be sustained."

Italy's debt exceeds 2 trillion euros

ROME, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Italy's national debt exceeded 2 trillion euros in October, the Bank of Italy said Friday.

The country's debt reached a record high of 2.014 trillion ($2.64 trillion), which amounted to 33,081 euros ($43,448) for each person who lives in Italy, the central bank said.

The Italian news agency ANSA said the national debt has risen by 71.238 billion euros since January.

The debt rose despite tax revenues increasing by 2.9 percent in the first 10 months of this year.

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco warned last month the national debt will continue to grow for some time, despite the austerity measures.

"It's arithmetic. As long as there's a budget deficit, the debt will increase," Visco was quoted as saying. "We'll have many more records in front of us until we balance the budget, not just in structural terms, but also in absolute terms."

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