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Morning Market Movers: Here Are 4 Things to Watch Today

Pay attention to the following as the day moves forward:

China

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China's trade weakened sharply in November, adding to challenges for the world's second-largest economy as a gradual recovery takes shape.

Export growth plunged to 2.9 percent over a year earlier from the previous month's 11.6 percent, customs data showed Monday. Imports were flat, down from October's 2.4 percent growth.

The figures were in line with analysts' warnings that a trade rebound that began in August was unsustainable due to weak global demand amid Europe's debt problems and a slow U.S. recovery.

The trade weakness comes as stronger factory production and consumer spending show China is starting to emerge from its deepest economic downturn since the 2008 global crisis.

China's reliance on trade has declined as domestic consumption grows but export-driven manufacturing still employs millions of workers and any weakness raises the risk of job losses and unrest.

Global demand for China's goods is so weak that the government has said exports likely will contribute nothing to this year's overall economic growth.

McDonald’s Sales

(Getty Images)

McDonald's Corp. said Monday that a key sales figure rose in November, as U.S. customers snapped up the world's biggest hamburger chain's breakfast offerings and limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.

The increase follows a decline in October, the first drop in McDonald's key monthly sales gauge in nearly a decade.

Investors sent McDonald's shares up 2.2 percent in premarket trading on Monday.

The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., said that its global sales at restaurants open at least thirteen months rose 2.4 percent for the month ended Nov. 30. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations.

The figure rose 2.5 percent in the U.S., boosted by popularity of breakfast options, its value menu and limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.

The figure rose 1.4 percent in Europe, where it gets 40 percent of its business, as strength in the U.K., Russia and other markets were offset by weakness in Germany.

In the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa, it edged up 0.6 percent, hurt by results in Japan.

Systemwide sales, which includes sales at all restaurants, rose 3.2 percent.

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As of this writing, oil is up and U.S. stocks are opening mixed:

Oil

(Getty Images)

The price of oil rose to near $87 a barrel on Monday, boosted by expanding exports in Germany and higher growth in electricity consumption and industrial production in China.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for January delivery was up 79 cents to $86.72 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 33 cents to finish at $85.93 per barrel on Friday.

Exports from Germany, Europe's biggest economy, rose by 0.3 percent in October after falling by 2.4 percent in September and were 10.6 percent higher than in October 2012.

Analysts had been expecting German exports to continue their slide and the positive figures lifted expectations that oil demand could improve.

Signs that China's economy is recovering from a slowdown also suggested an increase in energy demand.

Markets were also awaiting this week's meeting in Vienna of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which produces about a third of the world's oil supply.

Stocks

(Getty Images)

Stocks are opening mixed on Wall Street after the surprise resignation of Italy's prime minister sent a jolt through European markets.

The departure of Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti surprised markets. Monti was credited with restoring confidence in Italy's rattled economy. Italy's benchmark stock index dropped 3 percent and the yields on Italy's government bonds rose as investors sold them.

The Dow Jones industrial average inched up seven points to 13,162 shortly after the opening bell Monday.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was down a fraction of a point at 1,417. The Nasdaq composite was up a fraction at 2,978.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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