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U.S. stocks closed lower marginally Friday, pressured again by falling oil prices as investors returned from the Thanksgiving holiday into a half-day for the markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 178.74 points, or 0.7%, to 24,285.95 with the S&P 500 index slipping 17.37 points, or 0.7%, to 2,632.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 33.27 points to 6,938.98, a decline of 0.5%.
European markets meanwhile managed to eke out a small gain and finish in positive territory as Bank stocks provided some support. The Stoxx Europe 600 closed 0.4% higher at 353.98 and the German DAX ended Friday up 0.5% at 11,192.69 points. The FTSE 100 finished the session down 0.1% to 6,952.86. Across the board, plunging oil prices also weighed on market sentiment and left European stocks struggling.
Italy’s budget progress
Italian officials are studying scenarios for a lower 2019 budget deficit target after weeks of pressure from the European Union. It is unclear whether a small reduction of the deficit target would do much to stop Brussels from recommending the start of a possible infringement procedure. For EU officials, any deficit target over 2 percent was seen as too high.
After weeks of holding the line, the key ministers have launched a media blitz this morning to explain their climb down to voters. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio is pushing a citizen’s income to support poorer families and a lower retirement age as part of the budget. Di Maio says his government is committed to reform, but there can be dialogue with the EU on the deficit target.
Conflict in the Black Sea
Russia's coast guard opened fire on and seized three of Ukraine's vessels Sunday, wounding two crew members, after a tense standoff in the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula, the Ukrainian navy said. Earlier in the day, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over a separate incident involving the same vessels, prompting Moscow to block passage through the narrow Kerch Strait, which separates the peninsula from the Russian mainland.
Russia blamed Ukraine for provoking the incident, which sharply escalated tensions that have been growing between the two countries since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and it has worked steadily to bolster its zone of control around the peninsula. An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was called for Monday morning over the escalating situation, according to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides and for Moscow to restore access to the strait, which Ukraine uses to move ships to and from ports on either side of the peninsula.
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