The tax rate for adjusted earnings per share was 17 percent in the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2011. The effective tax rate for continuing operations for the third quarter of 2012 was 31 percent compared with 17 percent in the same period last year. The higher effective tax rate in the third quarter of 2012 was primarily due to changes in uncertain tax positions. Net cash taxes paid were $54 million in the first nine months of 2012 which were comparable with $48 million in the first nine months of 2011.
Earnings from equity investments, which are reflected in the company's earnings and operating EBITDA, were $50 million in the third quarter of 2012, a $7 million decrease from the prior year period primarily due to lower MTBE pricing in the company's Ibn Sina affiliate. The cash flow impact of equity investments was $37 million, a $10 million decrease from the prior year period, also related to the company's Ibn Sina affiliate.
During the first nine months of 2012, the company generated $661 million in cash from operating activities, an $180 million increase from the same period last year, primarily driven by lower trade working capital versus the prior year period. Cash used in investing activities during the first nine months of 2012 was $397 million compared with $296 million in the same period last year. The 2012 results include the company's acquisition of two product lines from Ashland Inc. and investments in other productive assets. In 2011, we received the final payment of $158 million associated with the relocation of our POM operations in Germany, partially offset by lower related capital expenditures in the current period. Net cash used in financing activities during the first nine months of 2012 was $21 million compared with $224 million in the prior year period. During the second quarter of 2011, the company used a net of $116 million to prepay a portion of one of its term loan facilities. Net debt at the end of the third quarter of 2012 was $2,052 million, a $283 million decrease from the end of 2011.