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Nov 23, 2012

NYT | Global Update -November 23, 2012-.: Truce Intact but Terms Still Unclear After Killing in Gaza

The New York Times International Herald Tribune
November 23, 2012
Compiled 21:45 GMT

Global Update


Truce Intact but Terms Still Unclear After Killing in Gaza

The fatal shooting by Israeli soldiers of a Palestinian man did not fracture the cease-fire that ended eight days of fighting between Hamas and Israel. But it did showcase the confusion that remains over the deal.

Clashes Break Out After Morsi Seizes New Power in Egypt

Protesters were said to have set fire to the offices of President Mohamed Morsi in several cities on Friday, as fighting broke out between his supporters and opponents.

Collapse of Budget Talks Poses New Setback to European Union

European Union leaders failed to reach agreement on a spending plan for their troubled bloc, calling off talks after most countries rejected cuts demanded by Britain and its allies.

Video: After the Cease-Fire

Palestinians and Israelis returned to a semblance of normal life after eight days of lethal conflict between Israel and Hamas.


The Rise of the Green Tea Party

If Japan's general election next month is generating any buzz at all it's because of one man: Toru Hashimoto, the plain-talking mayor of Osaka.
Military Analysis

For Israel, Gaza Conflict Is Test for an Iran Confrontation

Israel's exchange with Hamas was something of a practice run for any future armed face-off with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them.

Police Arrest Suspects in Tel Aviv Bus Blast, Including Israeli Citizen

An Arab with Israeli citizenship and several West Bank Palestinians have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the bus bombing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, according to security officials.
Reporter's Notebook

Life in Gaza's Courtyards: Displays of Pride and Sacrifice

Behind the scenes of destruction, mourning women talk of victory in death and idle young men laugh off bombings.
The Lede Blog

Vignettes of Black Friday

The Lede is checking out the mood of Black Friday shoppers as the economically critical holiday season kicks off. In Times Square, some had been anticipating a sale for months.

The Shrewd Shopper Carries a Smartphone

Apps for Black Friday shoppers are now loaded with planning tools, prices and directions to parking spots.
News Analysis

Case Casts a Shadow on a Hedge Fund Mogul

Evidence suggests that Steven A. Cohen participated in trades that the government says illegally used insider information, but he has not been charged.

Banned on Wall St.: Facebook, Twitter and Gmail

Young Wall Street analysts, who are mostly not permitted to use social media at work, are finding ways to get around the corporate firewalls.

For Gamers, One Big Thing and Many Smaller

The Wii U, the first major video game console to hit the market in six years, is likely to be the biggest gift for gamers this season.
Bits Blog

Amazon's Diminishing Discounts

Amazon caused an uproar in the publishing industry by selling books at a discount. Now that it is consolidating its power and needs to finally make money, there is some evidence that those deals are ending.

The Crown Awaits: Vettel or Alonso?

The Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, the final race of Formula One's longest season, will determine whether Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel will become the youngest triple world champion.

Wales Stares Into Rugby Abyss

Wales, whose hopes were high after its Six Nations success, is now mired in a five-test losing streak and in danger of dropping to the third tier of seedings for the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw.

The Rise of the Brazilians

The history of the Brazilian Grand Prix coincides with the rise of successful native sons in Formula One.
Chilling Effect

Effort to Curb Coolant Falters, Sometimes at Home

The United States has pressed poor countries to pick up the pace in eliminating the harmful HCFC-22, but it still has 140 million central air units running on the gas.

Texas: Two Dead, Many Injured in 140-Car Pileup

Two people died and more than 80 were hurt Thursday when at least 140 vehicles collided in eastern Texas in a pileup on Interstate 10.

One-Party Control Opens States to Partisan Rush

At least 37 states will soon be under single-party control, the most in six decades, raising the prospect that bold partisan agendas will flourish.
Op-Ed Contributor

Time to Impose a Plan

The next step in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be for the U.N. Security Council to spell out a two-state solution.
Op-Ed Contributor

Solution Without Resolution

The solution to the Israeli- Arab conflict is known in all its details. But there's no point in more discussions so long as hard-liners on both sides block it.
Op-Ed Columnist

Why We Love Politics

The new movie about Abraham Lincoln is a rare celebration of the paradoxical nobility of politics, its high vision often realized precisely through less-than-noble means.

GATA | THE GATA DISPATCH -November 23, 2012-.: Turkey confirms that gold exports are linked to purchase of iranian Gas

Turkey confirms that gold exports are linked to purchase of Iranian gas

By Emre Peker and Joe Parkinson
The Wall Street Journal

ISTANBUL -- Turkey on Friday acknowledged that a surge in its gold exports this year is related to payments for imports of Iranian natural gas, shedding light on Ankara's role in breaching U.S.-led sanctions against Tehran.

The continuing trade deal offers the most striking example of how Iran is using creative ways to sidestep Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program, which have largely frozen it out of the global banking system.

The disclosure was made by Turkey's deputy prime minister and top economic policy maker, Ali Babacan, in answers to questions from the parliamentary budget committee.

Iran provides 18% of Turkey's natural gas and 51% of its oil. But since U.S. and European Union sanctions ban Tehran from receiving payments in dollars or euros, Ankara pays Iran for the gas in Turkish liras. The lira is of limited value for buying goods on international markets but ideal for purchasing Turkish gold. The government hasn't specified how it pays for Iranian oil.

"In essence, gold exports" to Iran "end up like payments for our natural gas purchases," Mr. Babacan said. "Turkey is depositing the payment for the gas we purchase from Iran to Iran's account in Turkey. ... I don't know exactly how they then transfer it," he said.

The identity of the final destination of the gold in Iran isn't known, but the scale of the operation and its dramatic expansion suggest that the Iranian government plays a key role, analysts say.

In Turkey, state-run lender Turkiye Halk Bankasi has been responsible for processing the payments, since the U.S. adopted a measure in January to stop dealing with financial institutions working with Iran's central bank, freezing out private Turkish banks from facilitating payments. Halkbank raised 4.5 billion liras ($2.5 billion) Monday in Turkey's biggest offering in a secondary share sale -- a 20.8% stake, according to a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

Mr. Babacan's remarks Friday helped clarify an aspect of Turkish trade policy that has been a source of speculation since unusually high exports to Iran first appeared in March, the month Iran was cut off from the Swift global payments network, effectively blocking the country from performing international financial transactions.

Tehran has sought alternative means of payment for energy exports -- its main foreign currency earner and economic lifeblood -- including renminbi and rupees, as well as gold, in an attempt to skirt international sanctions and pay for its soaring food costs.

Analysts cautioned that although the trade with Iran wasn't illegal, Ankara wanted to keep details out of the public eye for fear of raising the ire of Washington, which is leading the international campaign against Tehran for its alleged push to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes including medical treatments.

Turkey sold $6.4 billion of gold to Iran in the first nine months of this year, up from just $54 million in 2011, according to official data, tripling Ankara's exports to its eastern neighbor and almost evening the trade balance that historically has been dramatically in Tehran's favor. Iran accounts for 60% of Turkey's gold exports this year, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 30% of the total.

Those transactions also helped cut a gaping Turkish current-account deficit to 7% of gross domestic product in September from an unsustainable 10% at the end of last year and improved Turkey's short-term external financing needs -- a key development that this month that enabled Ankara to secure its first investment-grade credit rating in almost two decades.

The glittering bilateral gold trade has supplemented a strong trading relationship. Despite tightening sanctions, Turkey's total trade with Iran rose 50% to a record $16 billion in 2011. The countries have already surpassed that peak with $18.8 billion in almost evenly split exports and imports in the first nine months of this year.

Although Turkish gold sales to Iran spiked parallel to U.S. and European Union sanctions, August and September saw bullion exports shrink amid a jump in sales to the United Arab Emirates, leading to speculation that the gold is now traveling to Iran through the UAE.

"Historically, Turkey is a gold importer due to demand from the jewelry industry, albeit it seems that current gold exports are related to demand from the UAE and on to Iran. There has been concern that these sales somewhat reflect illicit trade with Iran," said Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank PLC in London.

Traders in Istanbul's famed Grand Bazaar, which still plays host to a significant percentage of Turkey's gold trade, have speculated for months that Iran's government had been behind the bullion buying spree, since there was no discernible increase in the amount being purchased by traditional Iranian customers or tourists.

The government has denied direct links between the role of rising gold sales in buying energy, with Energy Minister Taner Yildiz saying in July that Turkish importers were paying for gas and oil in dollars and liras as per their purchasing agreements.

"This is a statement of what until now has seemed obvious, but was officially kept under wraps," said Robert O'Daly, a Turkey analyst at Economist Intelligence Unit in London. "As long as Turkey is importing gas from Iran, the gold exports will continue to be substantial."

While ties between Tehran and Ankara have become increasingly complicated in the past two years, as the Arab uprisings have polarized foreign policy aims, the neighbors have enough mutual interest to maintain a healthy trading relationship. The countries split most recently over the Syrian conflict, where Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad while Turkey backs rebels seeking to oust the regime in Damascus.

* * *

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Business in Vancouver | Today's Business News -November 23, 2012-.: Exclusive: B.C. government justifies $36m ad spending

Politics and Policy

Exclusive: B.C. government justifies $36m ad spending

Only $2.6 million of the B.C. government’s $36.065 million advertising budget was ... READ MORE

Retail and Manufacturing


Black Friday increasingly popular in Canada

Ipsos Read poll finds that nearly 44% of Canadian online shoppers say they are likely to take advantage of ... READ MORE



HootSuite HQ expands into City-owned site

Social media management software company HootSuite is moving into a larger head office in Vancouver thanks to a deal that ... READ MORE

More News...


B.C. has the lowest consumer price growth in the country

Surrey reduces landfill waste by 35%

Canadians not so down on their jobs

B.C. retail sales gains lag national average

MarketWatch | Wall Street at Close Report -November 23, 2012-.: U.S. stocks rally to strong weekly gains Shoppers hit the stores to take advantage of Black Friday sales

By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) U.S. stocks rallied Friday, buoyed by encouraging economic data from Germany and China, as American consumers headed to retail stores to take advantage of Black Friday promotions. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +1.35%  climbed 172.79 points, or 1.4%, to end at 13,009.68, with all 30 of its components in positive territory for the day. For the week, the Dow rose 3.4% — its best week since the week ending June 8. 

The technology components in the Dow outperformed on Friday. Hewlett-Packard Co. HPQ +4.19%  and Microsoft Corp. MSFT +2.78%  were the top gainers, rising 4.2% and 2.8%, respectively. Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO +1.95%  and Intel Corp. INTC +1.86%  also posted strong gains. 

The S&P 500 index SPX +1.30%  gained 18.12 points, or 1.3%, to 1,409.15, with information technology the top gainer and utilities the sole decliner among 10 major industry groups.
For the week, the S&P 500 gained 3.6% — its largest weekly percentage gain since June 8.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite COMP +1.38%  advanced 40.30 points, or 1.4%, to end at 2,966.85, leaving it up 4% for the week. 

Shares of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. RIMM +13.65%  rallied nearly 14%. The Tell: RIM gets big bounce — and it’s still cheap. 
Trading volume was light Friday. More than 328 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Composite volume topped 1.4 billion. 

“It’s traditional you get on Thanksgiving week a positive bias three-quarters of the time,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “With an absence of actors, it doesn’t take much to push prices around.” 

The stock market closed at 1 p.m. on Friday, earlier than usual, after trading was shut on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

“The August effect is in play in that a lot of players are out of town on the shortened day, so I wouldn’t read too much into today’s action,” said Marty Leclerc, principal at Barrack Yard Advisors. 

The retail sector was in the spotlight, as consumers hit shops across the nation to take advantage of Black Friday sales. Early indications pointed to momentum for U.S. retailers as they head into the all-important holiday season. 

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT +1.90%  gained 1.9% and those of Target Corp. TGT +1.19%  rose 1.2%. Read: Black Friday gives retailers holiday hope. 
In the absence of U.S. economic data on Friday, global economic reports buoyed the mood on Wall Street. Germany’s Ifo business-climate index rose to 101.4 in November from 100 in October, beating expectations for a decline. The rise in November came after six successive declines and showed the German economy is holding up in the face of the euro-zone debt crisis, the Ifo Institute said on Friday.
In Asia, the HSBC purchasing-managers index on Thursday showed that China’s manufacturing sector expanded in November for the first time in 13 months, indicating that growth will pick up in the fourth quarter. Read: China’s manufacturing sector finally expanding. 
The U.S. dollar weakened, boosting the appeal of dollar-denominated commodities. The dollar index DXY -0.60% , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of major currencies, fell 0.9% to 80.183. The euro EURUSD +0.6928% rallied 0.8% to $1.2978.
Gold and oil futures posted gains, while the 10-year Treasury yield 10_YEAR 0.00%  was unchanged at 1.69%. 

European equities rose Friday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index XX:SXXP +0.60%  gaining 4% for the week — its best week since the one ending on Dec. 2, 2011. Read: Europe stocks take a cue from Wall Street

Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's New York deputy bureau chief. Follow her on Twitter @PolyaLesova.

ADVFN Evening Euro Markets Bulletin -Bovember 23, 2012-.

ADVFN III Evening Euro Markets Bulletin
Daily world financial news

London Market Report
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Footsie registers best weekly performance this year

Market Movers
techMARK 2,075.07 +0.42%
FTSE 100 5,819.14 +0.49%
FTSE 250 11,888.93 +0.23%
After a subdued start, UK stocks rallied in afternoon trade on Friday with decent economic figures from Germany and France lifting the mood.

The positive finish helped the FTSE 100 index post its best weekly performance this year, up 3.8% in the last five days.

Meanwhile, market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi from ETX Capital said this afternoon: “A firm session on Wall Street with stock markets playing catch-up after yesterday’s closure for Thanksgiving sees the return of volumes in the market place, albeit still relatively light.”

The IFO Institute’s widely-followed gauge of German business confidence rose in November to the 101.4 point level, from 100 in the previous month, surprising the consensus of analyst who had expected a decline. That was only the first improvement after six successive months of decline.

There was also some upbeat data from France after the statistics institute INSEE’s French business confidence index for the month of November came in at a better-than-expected 87 points, versus 85 in October.

The two-day summit of European Union leaders to discuss a new seven-year budget ended today with the same result as yesterday: no agreement. Speaking to reporters after the first day of meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "position remains too far apart".

Going into next week, trade is likely to be volatile on Monday with US traders returning from a four-day weekend and all eyes pinned on the Eurogroup meeting on Greece.

Financial trader Shavaz Dhalla from Spreadex said that investor’s patience is "nearing the end of its tether" with Monday's meeting being the third of its kind without an agreement. "A lack of agreement on Monday could prove ‘three strikes are out’ for investor’s tolerance regarding Greece’s negotiations with its international lenders," he said.
FTSE 100: Water groups take a bath; SABMiller extends gains
Utilities stocks were under pressure today after voicing concerns with Ofwat's proposed water price controls in response to a statement by the regulator this week which welcomed "constructive" criticism. The general consensus is that water suppliers do not agree with the proposals from the regulator, which said that it wanted to set segmental price controls.

Pennon and Severn Trent were in the red, while United Utilities was registering slight gains. Investors were deciding to take caution ahead of next week when interim results from all three companies are due.

Xstrata was higher after saying that its nickel division has completed the construction of the first production line at the Koniambo project has been completed, with first metal anticipated in January. It was announced yesterday afternoon that Xstrata's merger with commodities giant Glencore has won the blessing of the European Commission. Both stocks were making gains this morning.

Sector peer ENRC rose after announcing that it is putting more on its Chairman's plate in order to let its Chief Executive Officer focus more on operations, "notably cost and operational efficiencies across the group's assets." Anglo American was also wanted after naming the leadership team for its UK construction joint venture with French cement group Lafarge.

Drinks giant SABMiller was on the up after releasing its first-half results yesterday. The stock was raised from 'reduce' to 'neutral' by Nomura this morning, which cited alleviated concerns about the company's margins. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse reiterated its 'outperform' rating on the shares today, saying that while the stock is trading at a 6% premium to the wider consumer staples sector, it believes it can "re-establish a c10% premium rating".

Oil titan BP was higher after appointing long-running company employee Lamar McKay as the new head of its Upstream division, which is thought to ease the pressure on current frontman Bob Dudley.
FTSE 250: Lonmin and Hochschild take a hit
Platinum miner Lonmin was among the heaviest fallers after UBS slashed its target for the shares from 260p to 240p and reiterated its ‘sell’ recommendation on the back of lower estimated production figures and higher costs. Analysts said that the stock is expected to be “volatile” during the period of the ongoing rights issue.

Precious metals group Hochschild Mining was also under the weather after saying that it now expects to get the construction permits for its Inmaculada and Crespo projects in the second half of 2013 following delays by the Peruvian government.

Mortgage provider Paragon Group of Companies was continuing to make gains following its full-year results on Tuesday in which it unveiled record profits and a 50% rise in the dividend.

Retailers were also performing well today with Home Retail and SuperGroup among the best performers. Seymour Pierce reiterated its ‘buy’ rating for SuperGroup today, saying that although shares have had a good run over the last year – partly due to a sector re-rating – “it is still good value considering the operational gearing in the earnings and expected step-up in the earnings growth rate over the medium term”.

AIM/Small Cap Report
FTSE 100 - Risers
GKN (GKN) 218.40p +1.87%
IMI (IMI) 1,017.00p +1.70%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,326.00p +1.62%
Evraz (EVR) 241.10p +1.60%
British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY) 777.50p +1.50%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,630.00p +1.49%
Kingfisher (KGF) 280.70p +1.34%
Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN) 342.70p +1.27%
Schroders (SDR) 1,589.00p +1.27%
Croda International (CRDA) 2,332.00p +1.26%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,099.00p -0.81%
Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets (MRW) 261.70p -0.65%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 1,437.50p -0.48%
Pennon Group (PNN) 605.00p -0.33%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,355.00p -0.21%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,393.00p -0.21%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 3,006.50p -0.12%
Serco Group (SRP) 555.50p -0.09%
Associated British Foods (ABF) 1,450.00p -0.07%
Sage Group (SGE) 307.70p -0.03%

FTSE 250 - Risers
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 233.00p +4.06%
Home Retail Group (HOME) 110.30p +3.18%
Stobart Group Ltd. (STOB) 110.40p +2.70%
Paragon Group Of Companies (PAG) 248.40p +2.64%
Ruspetro (RPO) 85.95p +2.32%
Pace (PIC) 185.10p +2.32%
Diploma (DPLM) 478.30p +1.96%
Bumi (BUMI) 264.70p +1.89%
TR Property Inv Trust (TRY) 163.00p +1.88%
Electrocomponents (ECM) 212.60p +1.77%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Kenmare Resources (KMR) 30.33p -6.27%
Savills (SVS) 424.80p -3.01%
NMC Health (NMC) 169.80p -2.64%
Lonmin (LMI) 291.40p -2.57%
Perform Group (PER) 395.00p -2.47%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 475.50p -2.42%
Renishaw (RSW) 1,777.00p -2.36%
RPS Group (RPS) 210.70p -2.32%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 391.20p -2.13%
Carpetright (CPR) 661.00p -2.07%

European broker round-up
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European Markets Finished In The Green Friday

The European markets ended Friday's session in positive territory, following a day of mostly directionless trading. The markets bounced back and forth between gains and losses after indications that the EU meeting in Brussels on the region's long-term budget may not reach a deal due to disagreement among member states. The return of the U.S. markets to active trading, following the Thanksgiving holiday, provided a boost in the afternoon. Investors were also pleased with the unexpected increase in German business confidence.

Discord among EU member states on the region's long-term budget is threatening to delay a deal on crucial spending plans for the coming years, deepening the economic crisis that has engulfed most of Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that there may not be a final deal at this meeting. "Positions are quite far apart," she told reporters after the first session of the meeting on Thursday. There should be some progress, but may need to push the talks further to a second stage for a final agreement, Merkel said.

French President Francois Hollande said it is more likely that the meeting will not reach a deal on Friday. There are signs of a relative return of confidence in the euro area due to decisions taken by the European leaders as well as the central bank, the European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Friday.

Speaking at the 22nd Frankfurt European Banking Congress, Draghi said the decision by the European leaders to form a "financial union" by creating a single bank supervisor around the ECB and the proposal that European banks would receive direct capital support from the European Stability Mechanism, helped to calm markets. Further, the ECB had announced another round of bond purchases called Outright Monetary Transactions or OMTs.

The ECB stands ready to implement OMTs as and when required, he reiterated. The central bank has said that it will intervene in the market to buy government bonds if Spain places a request to the EU-IMF for a bailout. Such intervention will be aimed at lowering the borrowing costs for the country.

Standard and Poor's on Friday affirmed France's AA+ rating, citing the government's commitment to budgetary and structural reforms which would improve the country's growth potential.

The rating agency confirmed its long-and short-term sovereign credit ratings on France at 'AA+/A-1+'. It also maintained its long-term outlook at 'negative', and said that there is at least a one-in-three chance that the ratings could be lowered in 2013.

The European Council on Thursday named Luxembourg's Yves Mersch to the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, after months of battle with the European Parliament which wanted a woman to occupy the post.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks increased by 0.73 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, added 0.57 percent.

The DAX of Germany climbed by 0.89 percent and the CAC 40 of France gained 0.87 percent. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. rose by 0.49 percent and the SMI of Switzerland advanced by 0.54 percent.

In Frankfurt, SMA Solar finished unchanged. The stock was upgraded to ''Neutral'' from ''Underweight'' at HSBC.

Infineon Technologies increased by 0.14 percent, after a broker downgrade. Nomura downgraded Metro to ''Neutral'' from ''Buy.'' The stock finished higher by 1.62 percent. The downgrade also weighed on shares of Wm. Morrison in the U.K. and Carrefour in France. Wm. Morrison declined by 0.65 percent, while Carrefour lost 0.26 percent. Fraport dropped by 2.41 percent, after HSBC downgraded the stock to "Underweight'' from ''Neutral.''

In Paris, EADS declined by 1.37 percent, on reports that Germany will buy the company's shares from France. Berenberg downgraded Danone to ''Sell'' from ''Hold.'' The stock finished higher by 0.09 percent.

In London, SABMiller rose by 1.18 percent. Nomura upgraded its rating on the stock to "Neutral" from "Reduce." The brewer gained 6.4 percent yesterday, after the company reported an increase in net profit.

Glencore International climbed by 0.63 percent and Xstrata added 0.59 percent. The stocks extended their gains from Thursday, after their merger received approval from European Union regulators.

Hotels and pubs operator Fuller, Smith & Turner reported increases in profit and revenue for the first half of the year, and hiked its dividend. The stock gained 3.24 percent.

Sweett Group surged by 10.91 percent. The property and infrastructure professional services firm reported a turnaround to profit in its first half, helped by disposal of investments.

Confidence among German businesses improved unexpectedly in November as firms were less pessimistic about future developments and expressed greater satisfaction with their current work, results of a survey by the Ifo Institute revealed on Friday.

The headline business climate index for the German industry and trade rose to 101.4 in November from 100 in the previous month. Economists had expected the reading to fall to 99.5. The improvement came after six consecutive declines.

The German economy expanded in the third quarter of 2012 in line with the preliminary estimates, largely supported by foreign demand as well as domestic consumption, a detailed report from the Federal Statistical Office showed Friday.

The seasonally adjusted gross domestic product rose 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, unrevised from the preliminary estimate. Nonetheless, it was the weakest growth rate recorded so far this year after a 0.3 percent increase in the second quarter and 0.5 percent gain in the first three months of the year.

New orders received by Germany's construction firms decreased from last year in September, data released by the Federal Statistical Office showed Friday. The total value of new construction orders, on a price-adjusted basis, fell 3.8 percent year-on-year in September.

France's business confidence improved more than economists expected in November, but the overall industrial economic situation remained negatively oriented, data from statistical office Insee showed Friday.

The headline business confidence index rose to 88 in November from 85 in October, which was lower than September's reading of 90. Economists were looking for a more modest rise to 87 in November.

US Market Report
Stocks Seeing Considerable Strength In Abbreviate Session

Stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Friday, extending the upward move seen earlier in the week. The markets are benefiting from broad based buying interest despite below average volume.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering firmly in positive territory. The Dow is up 107.40 points or 0.8 percent at 12,944.29, the Nasdaq is up 32.44 points or 1.1 percent at 2,958.99 and the S&P 500 is up 11.98 points or 0.9 percent at 1,403.01.

The strength that has emerged on Wall Street comes as traders continue to pick up stocks at reduced levels following the sell-off that was seen in the weeks following the elections.

Positive sentiment has also been generated by a report from the Ifo Institute showing an unexpected improvement in German business confidence in the month of November.

The headline German business climate index rose to 101.4 in November from 100 in October, while economists had expected the index to fall to 99.5.

Investors are also keeping an eye on developments in the retail sector, attempting to gauge the strength of the holiday shopping season on reports regarding the Black Friday crowds.

A number of retailers opened their doors even earlier than usual this year in order to increase sales on what is already one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

However, the upward move may be being exaggerated by the light volume, which comes as many traders remain away from their desks amid the abbreviated trading session.

Sector News

Networking stocks have shown a strong move to the upside, driving the NYSE Arca Networking Index up by 3.2 percent. With the gain, the index is currently poised to end the session at its best closing level in over a month.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has helped to lead the networking sector higher, with the communications equipment maker up by 13 percent after Bloomberg said the company is in talks with Goldman Sachs (GS) about obtaining a loan to strengthen its balance sheet.

Significant strength has also emerged among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.9 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index. Lexmark (LXK) and Dell (DELL) are turning in two of the sector's best performances.

Most of the other major sectors have also moved to the upside on the day, with semiconductor, software, gold, and brokerage stocks posting notable gains.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly higher on Friday, although the Japanese market was closed for a public holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries continue to turn in a lackluster performance despite the rally on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.685 percent.

Friday broker round-up
African Minerals: Citigroup reduces target from 500p to 470p, buy recommendation reiterated.

Alpha Real Trust: Panmure Gordon reduces target from 77p to 76p, hold recommendation kept.

Antofagasta: Alphavalue raises target from 1073.30p to 1346.40p and upgrades to add.

British Land: Espirito Santo moves target from 571p to 578p, buy recommendation remains unchanged.

Close Brothers Group: UBS raises target from 830p to 850p, neutral rating kept.

Cobham: Jefferies raises target from 230p to 240p, buy recommendation maintained.

Daily Mail and General Trust: Barclays Capital raises target from 550p to 560p, equal weight rating unchanged. Panmure Gordon raises target from 635p to 700p, buy recommendation maintained.

Darty: Alphavalue moves target from 57.20p to 57.90p and downgrades to add.

easyJet:Nomura raises target from 650p to 850p, buy recommendation kept.

Earthport: Panmure Gordon reduces target from 28ß to 24p, buy recommendation remains unchanged.

Halfords Group: Citigroup raises target from 295p to 325p, neutral rating reiterated.

Hochschild Mining: Numis reduces target from 505p to 450p, hold recommendation maintained.

Lonmin: UBS reduces target from 260p to 240p, sell recommendation unchanged.

Majestic Wine: Espirito Santo reduces target from 470p to 460p and downgrades to neutral.

Pennon Group: Exane BNP Paribas reduces target from 700p to 660p and upgrades to neutral.

SABMiller: Deutsche Bank raises target from 2700p to 2800p, hold recommendation reiterated. JP Morgan raises target from 2770p to 2855p, overweight rating kept. Credit Suisse raises target from 2950p to 3100p, outperform recommendation maintained. Nomura raises target from 2600p to 2800p and upgrades from reduce to neutral. Societe Generale raises target from 2800p to 2970p, hold recommendation remains unchanged.

Signet Jewelers: Deutsche Bank raises target from 3860p to 4000p, buy recommendation maintained.

Talk Talk Telecom: Berenberg raises target from 180p to 265p and upgrades to buy.

Tangent Communications: Canaccord raises target from 10p to 12.75p, buy recommendation kept.

Thomas Cook: Alphavalue moves target from 25.90p to 26.80p and downgrades to add. Investec raises target to 40p and reiterates buy.

Xchanging: JP Morgan raises target from 108p to 129p, neutral rating remains unchanged.