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US markets closed lower on Flynn's guilty plea

The US markets closed lower on Friday, after news surrounding former national-security adviser Michael Flynn added an element of political uncertainty into markets, though the issue wasn't seen as derailing a market rally that gave the Dow its best week of the year. Trading was volatile, with major indexes mostly opening higher, though they fell sharply in the immediate aftermath of the Flynn news. However, all three indexes clawed back losses throughout the afternoon on optimism over expectations lawmakers would make additional progress on tax-cut legislation. Flynn is the second member of Trump's campaign to reach a deal with the special counsel investigating Russia's alleged interference in the US election. Some concerns over the bill remain, including how to finance the tax cuts. On Thursday, the Joint Committee on Taxation said the Senate bill would generate more than $400 billion in revenue over 10 years through economic growth, but that's not nearly enough to compensate for the measure's $1.4 trillion cost.

On the economy front, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index slipped to a still-strong reading of 58.2% last month from October's 58.7%. The ISM's new orders index rose 0.6 points to 64% and the production index climbed 2.9 points to 63.9%, setting a six-year watermark. The employment gauge was little changed at a still-strong 59.7%.  The latest ISM reflects strong growth among US manufacturers. Readings over 50% indicate more companies are expanding instead of shrinking. And readings near or above 60% are especially robust. Separately, Detroit auto makers reported mixed sales results for November, with General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reporting declines while Ford Motor Co. gained ground amid strong demand for its pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles. The numbers indicate dealership traffic remained on par with the same month last year, as a spate of Black Friday deals fueled interest.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 40.76 points or 0.17 percent to 24,231.59, the Nasdaq dropped 26.387 points or 0.38 percent to 6,847.59, and the S&P 500 edged lower by 5.36 points or 0.20 percent to 2,642.22.

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