WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:
The Australian dollar is back below 88 US cents following weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data.
At 0630 AEDT on Friday, the Australian dollar was trading at 87.58 US cents, down from 88.03 cents on Thursday.
And the Australian share market looks set to open lower, taking its lead from Wall Street which is down one per cent after weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing figures.
At 0645 AEDT on Friday, the March share price index futures contract was down 41 points at 5,187.
WASHINGTON - New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits rose slightly last week but the overall trend headed lower as the job market slowly improves, government data shows.
WASHINGTON - US existing-home sales increased 1.0 per cent in December from November, wrapping up the strongest year for sales in seven years, the National Association of Realtors says.
BRUSSELS - Business activity in the eurozone private sector hit a 31-month high in January as a modest recovery gathered pace across the region, a key indicator shows.
MADRID - Spain's unemployment rate topped 26 per cent in the final quarter of 2013 as the eurozone's fourth-largest economy emerged only haltingly from a long, job-wrecking recession.
RUSTENBURG - Tens of thousands of striking workers at South Africa's top three platinum producers have agreed to take part in government-brokered talks aimed at ending the dispute and limiting economic damage.
NEW YORK - McDonald's has reported disappointing quarterly sales as fewer customers visit the world's biggest hamburger chain.
NEW YORK - The parent of United Airlines has earned $US140 million ($A158.60 million) in the fourth quarter, as more passengers flew and paid more for their tickets.
HELSINKI - Nokia has announced falling mobile phone sales and lower profits in its last financial report before handing its mobile phone business over to Microsoft.
HONG KONG - Chinese computer giant Lenovo will buy IBM's low-end server business for $US2.3 billion ($A2.6 billion), giving it a platform to compete in that sector with US giants Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
MOSCOW - Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom has reported a 10.5 per cent plunge in third-quarter profits but gains over the first nine months of 2013 thanks booming European sales.