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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire weekend wrap

Monday 15th December 2008

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Shares on Wall Street closed higher on Friday after the White House said it would consider dipping into the so-called TARP funding to bailout the automakers after the Senate failed to approve a rescue.

Stocks rebounded from an earlier sell-off. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 0.8% at 8629.68 and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.7% to 879.73. The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.2% to 1540.72.

Tech companies advanced led by Intel, which rose 5.3% to US$14.75. Hewlett-Packard gained 3.4% to US$35.97. General Motors fell 4.4% to $3.94.

GM chief executive Rick Wagoner discussed a potential bailout with White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the talks.

Wall Street was also digesting news that investments veteran Bernard Madoff may have cost investors some US$50 billion. The 70-year-old was arrested on December 11.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa announced the nation was in default on its government debt, the OPEC nation's second such event in a decade. Correa vowed to mount a legal challenge against what he called "monster" debt holders.

Correa refused to make a $31 million interest payment on its 2012 global bonds, which he said had been raised illegally by the nation's previous government.

"I gave the order not to pay the interest and to go into default," he told a news conference in the city of Guayaquil. "We know very well who we are up against -- real monsters." His slogan has been "life before debt."

Crude oil pared an earlier decline on Friday after the Bush administration said it may use funds from the US$700 billion bank-rescue package to aid the auto industry.

Crude oil for January delivery fell 3.5% to settle at US$46.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of oil earlier tumbled as much as 9.7%.

The price of copper tumbled after the US senate failed to approve the US$14 billion auto rescue.

Copper futures for March delivery fell 5.5% to US$1.4285 a pound in New York. Copper futures made up some ground after the Bush administration's comments that it may use the TARP funds.

Gold futures also clawed back from some of the earlier decline on Friday. Spot gold was little changed at US$818.30 an ounce in New York. US gold futures for February delivery fell US$6.10 to US$820.50 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The US dollar fell to its lowest level in 13 years against the yen after the failure of the Senate to agree on the auto industry rescue

The dollar traded at 91.07 yen on Friday having sunk to a three-year low the previous day. The euro rose to $1.3362.

US Treasuries gained on concern over the potential impact of the failure of GM or Chrysler. The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 4 basis points to 2.57%. The 30-year bonds fell 3 basis points to 3.05%.

Stocks in Europe fell on Friday, led by financials and automakers. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 2.8% to 829.65 points. HBOS tumbled 23% after reporting a jump in bad debt. Lloyds TSB sank 18% and Royal Bank of Scotland was down 15%.

HBOS said bad loans and impairment charges rose about 66% to 8 billion pounds in just a two-month stretch. The FTSE 100 declined 2.5% to 4280.35.

Germany's DAX 30 dropped 2.2% to 4663.37 as Daimler fell 4.2%, Commerzbank declined 6.9% and Deutsche Bank slid 4.8%. France's CAC 40 fell 2.8% to 3213.6.

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