US data boost stocks; oil falls on OPEC worries

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Asian traders on edge with oil, Italy worries in view

New York (AFP) - Strong US economic data provided support to global stocks Tuesday despite worries about OPEC talks and a weekend referendum in Italy that could inject more uncertainty into the eurozone.

US data showed stronger-than-expected third quarter growth, higher housing prices in September and a sharp rebound in consumer confidence in November.

"Guess what? The economy isn't terrible," economist Joel Naroff said.

"Now I know some people pick and choose what they like or don't like about the data, but economists are stuck actually having to look at all the numbers and right now they look pretty good."

The sunny figures helped push US stocks modestly higher, while Paris and Frankfurt also advanced.

But London retreated 0.4 percent, in part due to weakness in petroleum shares due to a nearly four percent drop in US oil prices to $45.23 a barrel.

All eyes are on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to see whether it is able to agree Wednesday to reduce the cartel's gushing crude that has long hurt producers and slashed prices.

Concerns are growing that members will not be able to hammer out details of a broad accord reached in September to reduce output and support prices, as Iran and Iraq are saying they should be exempt.

"At the minimum, we've got some brinkmanship between OPEC countries, so they're daring each others to let the prices collapse by threatening not to cut production," said Michael Lynch of Strategic Energy and Economic Research.

Capital Economics analyst Tom Pugh said OPEC knows the stakes.

"The group will be well aware that a failure to come up with any agreement could see prices plunge back below $40 per barrel and make it difficult for OPEC to convince the market that it is able to function effectively."

Investors also were nervously anticipating a referendum Sunday in Italy on a constitutional reform. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has suggested he would step down if voters reject the proposal.

There are fears his resignation could spark elections in which populist anti-euro parties could do well, and possibly even lead to the country leaving the EU.

The outcome also could throw into doubt measures to fortify Italy's struggling banking sector.

- Key figures around 2200 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 19,121.60 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,204.66 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent to 5,379.92 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 6,772.00 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 10,620.49 points (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.9 percent at 4,551.46 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,035.84 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 18,307.04 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 22,737.07 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,282.92 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0650 from $1.0615 Monday

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.36 yen from 111.94 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2490 from $1.2414

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.85 at $45.23 a barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN $1.86 at $46.38 a barrel