By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global shares and crude oil pared gains on Monday after U.S. manufacturing activity hit a three-year low in November, offsetting signs of revived growth in China.
Wall Street opened higher, following gains in European equity markets on upbeat factory data from China and a slower contraction in European manufacturing. But U.S. shares subsequently trimmed gains to trade near break-even.
The euro leaped to its highest level against the U.S. dollar in six weeks as concerns abated about debt-burdened Greece and Spain while Chinese data allayed worries about global growth.
But concerns over budget dealings in Washington over the "fiscal cliff" remained the primary focus of investors.
"At this point, all you can say about the data is they are discounting it," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont. "So barring some catastrophe here in terms of the fiscal cliff, we look pretty stable."
In a sign U.S. manufacturing may be struggling to gain traction, the Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 49.5 from 51.7 in October. The figure was the softest since July 2009, when the U.S. economy was struggling in the aftermath of the financial crisis and may have been affected by superstorm Sandy, which hit the U.S. East Coast in late October.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 11.71 points, or 0.09 percent, at 13,013.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.78 points, or 0.06 percent, at 1,416.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.66 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,014.90.
European shares gave up most of their gains after hitting a 17-month high, pulled lower by the U.S. manufacturing data and concerns about the U.S. "fiscal cliff" hurting sentiment.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed a provisional 0.18 percent higher at 1,121.38, after earlier rising to 1,128.65, its highest level in 17 months.
But world shares as measured by MSCI's all-country world equity index were up 0.1 percent at 333.00.
The euro was up 0.58 percent at $1.3061, while the U.S. dollar index fell 0.37 percent to 79.856.
Copper touched a six-week high on the promising data from China, the world's top metals consumer. But doubts about the soundness of the global economy put a lid on gains.
Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange hit $8,045 a tonne, the highest since October 19, before receding to $8,015.50, up 0.26 percent.
U.S. Treasuries prices fell on news that Spain is seeking help for its troubled banks and the Chinese manufacturing data reduced safe-haven demand for less-risky government debt.
"You got the Spain news which was expected but it was still welcomed news for risky assets. You also had some pretty good Chinese data. The (bond) market is a little fatigued," said Jason Rogan, director of Treasuries trading at Guggenheim Partners in New York.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 5/32 in price to yield 1.6301 percent.
Oil rose above $112 per barrel, spurred by signs that growth is picking up in China, before trimming gains, with North Sea Brent turning negative.
Brent futures were off 13 cents at $111.10 per barrel. U.S. crude rose 32 cents to $89.23 per barrel.
(Additional reporting by Richard Hubbard; Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler)