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Jan. 11, 2013 at 2:33 PM
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U.S. markets flat Friday

NEW YORK, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. markets were flat Friday after the U.S. Commerce Department said the trade gap rose in November.

The trade increased from $42.1 billion in October to $48.7 billion, with the gain in imports, up $8.4 billion, far outpacing the month's $1.7 billion gain in exports.

In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.75 points or 0.06 percent to 13,478.97. The Nasdaq composite added 1.26 points or 0.04 percent to 3,123.02. The Standard and Poor's 500 shed 1.50 points or 0.1 percent to 1,470.62.

The 10-year treasury note rose 6/32 to yield 1.882 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro rose to $1.3346 from Thursday's $1.3269 The dollar was higher at 89.16 yen from 88.78 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 1.4 percent or 148.93 points to 10,801.57.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.33 percent, 20.07 points, to 6,121.58.

Trade gap widened in November

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. trade deficit jumped sharply from October to November of 2012, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis said Friday.

The trade gap grew from a revised October deficit of $42.1 billion -- previously announced as $42.3 billion -- to $48.7 billion, with the gain in imports far outpacing the month's gain.

Exports rose by $1.7 billion month-to-month to $182.5 billion but imports jumped by $8.4 billion to $231.8 billion, the bureau said.

In November, the deficit in goods trading increased by $6.6 billion to $65.7 billion.

The surplus in services exports month-to-month held steady at $17 billion.

The difference was a sharp increase in goods imports, which jumped by $8.2 billion to $195 billion. By comparison, exports of services rose by only $100 million to $53.2 billion while imports of services increased by $200 million to $36.3 billion.

Among major trading partners, the trade gap with China dropped from $29.5 billion to $29 billion. The decline in the trade gap with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was even more pronounced, with the deficit falling from $8.6 billion to $6.6 billion.

The trade deficit widened with the European Union, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Venezuela and Korea, the bureau said.

Abe gov't approves $116B stimulus package

TOKYO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet Friday approved a package of over $116 billion to stimulate the economy, hobbled by deflation and falling exports.

The new package would bring to more than $225 billion the total stimulus funds so far. Japan is the world's third-largest economy after the United States and China.

Kyodo News reported the new package seeks to add about 2 percentage points to the gross domestic product and create at least 60,000 jobs.

Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party was swept to power last month after a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, had campaigned on kick starting the recession-hit economy.

"We have to put an end to the shrinking economy," Abe was quoted as telling reporters, while warning it would be "important to maintain fiscal discipline."

The 10.3 trillion yen stimulus package will likely be financed through bonds as part of the Abe government's monetary easing effort.

The previous government, however, had capped issuing new debt because of Japan's already huge public debt. Japan's fiscal debt is already 220 percent of the GDP.

The stimulus will also seek to encourage private investment and finance large-scale public works projects and reconstruction in the wake of the catastrophic March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which deeply hurt the economy.

The Bank of Japan, the country's central bank, also has been urged undertake aggressive monetary easing to fight deflation and other economic ills and boost domestic demand.

The government will draw up a $145 billion additional budget for the current fiscal year through March in addition to the stimulus package.

Cook: China is the apple in Apple's eye

BEIJING, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- China will someday surpass the United States as Apple Corp.'s No. 1 customer, the company's top executive said Friday.

On a trip to China to meet with business partners and government officials, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said China "is currently our second largest market."

However, he added, "I believe it will become our first. I believe strongly that it will."

"We are continuing to invest in retail stores here and will open many more over the next several years. We have some great sites selected, our manufacturing base is here, and we have incredible partners here. So it's a very very important country to us," he said.

CNNMoney reported Friday Cook was scheduled to meet with China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua in Beijing, but a spokesperson for China Mobile said the two business leaders had made a non-disclosure agreement and would not comment on the discussion.

China Mobile is the world's largest phone company in terms of subscriptions. But it currently does not carry the iPhone, which is available in China through rival China Unic.

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