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World stocks muted as impulse from U.S. data fades

MANILA, Philippines - World stock markets were muted Tuesday as profit taking offset mildly positive economic indicators from China.

In early European trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was nearly flat at 6,562.83. France's CAC 40 was down 0.1 percent at 4,131.75.  Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent at 9,205.08.

Futures pointed to modest gains on Wall Street, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.1 percent.

Evan Lucas, strategist as IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia, said some investors locked in profits after two days of gains that were fueled by stronger hiring and economic growth in the United States.

Chinese economic indicators didn't change the picture of a moderate recovery in the world's No. 2 economy.

China's factory production rose 10 percent in November from a year earlier, slightly lower than analysts' forecasts. But retail sales rose 13.7 percent, which was stronger-than-expected.

Andrew Sullivan of Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong said the Chinese figures were "nothing to be concerned over but nothing to drive the market higher."

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.3 percent at 15,611.31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 23,744.19 while China's Shanghai Composite was nearly unchanged at 2,237.49. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.4 percent to 1,993.45.

Markets were also down in Singapore, Philippines and Taiwan. Australia was steady and benchmarks rose in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for January delivery was up $1.02 to $98.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 31 cents to $97.34 on Monday.

The euro rose to $1.3747 from 1.3736 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 103.15 from 103.27 yen.

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