The harsh budget cuts are scheduled to begin at midnight in theUS, with no hope of a last-minute deal in Washington.The sequester aims to trim around $85 billion from the US budget,with the cuts divided equally between defense spending and socialprograms.The news from the US won’t have a significant short-term effect,but could lead to a worsening economic forecast, with the marketreacting immediately.Trading on the first day of March will also be influenced by therelease of macroeconomic statistics in Europe: February PMI datawill be published, with the value expected to remain at 47.8points. Also revealed on Friday will be January’s unemployment ratein the eurozone (a slight increase to 11.8 percent) and regionalinflation indicators (annual rates are expected to fall to 1.9percent).Despite the huge amount of data, European markets are not expectedto drive global growth.Russian stocks fared mostly poorly on Thursday, with the MICEXfalling 0.08% to 1486.04 and RTS inching up 0.25% to 1534.41. Goodnews on GDP growth in the United States and the appointment of anew Central Bank director in Japan later was marred by unemploymentdata from Germany and reports that the Spanish economy contractedfor the sixth quarter in a row.US stocks fell on Thursday, ending the month with 1% growth.Mixed economic data dampened sentiments on Wall Street, as marketslooked toward draconian government spending cuts set to beginFriday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.2%, to end at14,054.49, the S&P 500 fell 0.1% to 1,514.68 and the NasdaqComposite fell 0.1% to 3,160.19.Asian stocks traded mostly lower on Friday, with a pair oflackluster manufacturing reports from China doing little to helpsentiment. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Shanghai Composite Indexboth went down 0.5%, while New Zealand’s NZSX 50 retreated 0.1% andAustralia’s S&P/ASX 200 index went down 0.5%. Japan’s NikkeiStock Average managed to gain 0.4%, while South Korean markets wereclosed for a holiday.Data on Chinese manufacturing published on Friday didn’t do muchto lift the market’s mood – according to an official survey ongrowth in the sector, activity slowed almost to a halt in February.The China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing’s version of themanufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.1 fromthe previous month’s 50.4, missing expectations of a rise to50.5. Gold futures fell for a second straight session in New York onThursday, ending February with a fifth straight monthly loss,sending gold producers lower in Australia.