A roundup of trading on major world markets:
NEW YORK - US stocks opened little changed following mixed economic data on the retail and job markets.
Five minutes into trade on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 10.91 points (0.07 per cent) at 15,832.62.
The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.34 (0.02 per cent) to 1,781.88, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 4.53 (0.11 per cent) to 4,008.34.
US retail sales rose 0.7 per cent in November, a key month that kicks off the important year-end holiday shopping season. Analysts had expected a softer increase of 0.6 per cent.
On the downside, new jobless claims rose to 368,000 in the week ending December 7 from the prior week's upwardly revised figure of 300,000, the Labor Department said.
Analysts had pegged the figure to come in at 315,000.
LONDON - Europe's main stock markets slid, shaken by data that suggests the eurozone recovery may be stalling and by traders adjusting positions ahead of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus decision.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dropped 0.96 per cent to 6,445.25 points on Thursday, while Frankfurt's DAX 30 fell 0.66 per cent to 9,017 points and the CAC 40 in Paris gave up 0.43 per cent to 4,069.12 points.
Madrid lost 0.93 per cent and Milan 0.94 per cent.
The euro slid to $US1.3750 from $US1.3785 late in New York on Wednesday.
HONG KONG - Asian markets eased following, as investors looked to next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting with speculation growing that the bank will cut its stimulus program.
While a bipartisan budget deal in Washington fuelled hopes that another government shutdown will be avoided next month, it is believed that the deal will also give the Fed more room to wind down the bond-buying scheme.
Tokyo fell 1.12 per cent, or 173.24 points, to close at 15,341.82, while Seoul slipped 0.51 per cent, or 10.04 points, to 1,967.93 and Sydney ended 0.82 per cent, or 41.7 points, lower at 5,062.5.
Shanghai closed a tad lower, dipping 1.37 points to 2,202.80 while Hong Kong lost 0.51 per cent, or 120.12 points, to end at 23,218.12.
WELLINGTON - The NZX 50 Index rose 3.894 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4708.198 on Thursday.