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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire Christmas wrap

Monday 29th December 2008

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The price of crude oil jumped on Friday after the United Arab Emirates, the world's fifth-largest exporter of crude, said it would reduce supplies to Asia as part of OPEC's plan to underpin prices.

Crude oil for February delivery rose 6.7% to US$37.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the week, crude fell about 11%. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries this month agreed to reduce supplies by 2.2 million barrels a day, a record cut in output for the cartel.

Gold rose after a ceasefire agreement ended between Israel and the Hamas organization, with rocket attacks on southern Israel and airstrikes by Israel that killed some 229 Palestinians. Also helping underpin the precious metal were reports of Pakistani troops being diverted from the tribal areas to the border with India, where tension is still simmering after the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Gold futures for February delivery rose 2.7% to US$871.20 an ounce in New York. Copper rose from a four-year low on speculation the U.S. economy will revive through 2009. Copper is down about 57% this year. Copper futures for March delivery rose 2.3% to US$1.3035 a pound on the New York Mercantile.

General Motors led the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher on Friday, gaining 13% to US$3.66 after its GMAC financing unit qualified for U.S. federal government funds, which may help strengthen the business enough to avoid bankruptcy.

Exxon Mobile gained 1.9% to US$77.19, leading oil producers higher as crude oil rose.

The Dow advanced 0.6% to 8515.55 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5% to 872.80. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4% to 1530.24.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index paced gains in Asia stocks on Friday on the prospects of a revival in global growth later next year. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.6% with
Toyota rising for a second day, up 1.9% to 2900 yen. The automaker has forecast its first operating loss in its 71-year history.

The Japanese benchmark stock index rose even after figures showed industrial production tumbled by a record 8.1% last month, reflecting waning global demand and a strengthening yen.

The Bank of Japan may take "extraordinary steps" to help revive the world's second-biggest economy, according to BOJ policy board member Hidetoshi Kamezaki. The central bank this month cut the overnight lending rate to 0.1% from 0.3%, regaining its title as the developed economy with the lowest rates.

In South America, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa is preparing to make an offer to bondholders after the nation defaulted on its payments. He has called on bondholders to accept an offer to buy back the US$3.9 billion debt at a substantial discount

Russia's central bank approved a devaluation of the rouble on Friday as the price of oil, the nation's biggest earner of foreign exchange, fell.

European stocks fell, rounding out a week when trade was disrupted by the Christmas. Inn its final day of trading before Christmas, Germany's DAX 30 fell 0.2% to 4629.380, with Volkswagen sliding 3.4% after Toyota forecast a loss.

On Dec. 24, France's CAC 40 declined 0.4% to 3116.21 and in London, the FTSE 100 Index fell 1.6%.


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