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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire weekend wrap

Monday 1st December 2008

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Stocks on Wall Street ended the week higher, helping the Standard & Poor's 500 Index round out its biggest weekly gain since 1974 after Citigroup won federal financial aid and automakers rebounded.

The S&P 500 rose about 1% to 896.24 on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.2% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2% to 1535.57. Citigroup jumped 18% to $8.29 and soared 120% in the week after regulators agreed to a plan to inject $20 billion and cover losses related on assets. General Motors rose 8.9% to US$5.24 and was up 71% on the week. The automaker may dump its Saturn, Saab and Pontiac brands as part of a broader effort to cut costs, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar.

GM's board is trying to finalise a proposal for a rescue plan to put to the Congress this week.

ShopperTrak RCT, the research firm, reported that US holiday retail sales rose 3% from a year earlier, marking the weakest growth for a so-called Black Friday since 2005.

US Treasury bonds rallied as the US government stepped up efforts to unfreeze credit markets.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 31 basis points to 2.93% last week. The 30-year bond yield fell 27 basis points to 3.44%.

The yen advanced for a fourth straight month versus the euro as investors exited assets funded with loans in Japan's currency. The US dollar strengthened against the euro amid expectations the European Central Bank will cut interest rates as soon as next week to bolster a contracting regional economy.

The yen gained 3.4% last month.

Oil may halt its decline this week after OPEC delayed by two weeks a decision to cut output while it assesses the impact of recent cuts. Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said over the weekend that US$75 a barrel was a fair price given the need to fund investment in new fields.

Gold rose in New York on Friday, rounding out its biggest monthly gain in nine years after terror attacks in Mumbai sent some investors scrambling to the metal as a haven.

Gold futures for February delivery rose about 1% to US$819 an ounce in New York on Friday.

Copper fell after reports showed rising inventories as a slumping global economy sapped demand. Stockpiles rose 1% to 291,650 tons, according to the London Metal Exchange.

Copper futures for March delivery fell 3% to US$1.6495 a pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday.

European stocks gained, rounding out their biggest weekly gain in 11 years on optimism government measures worldwide to prop up financial institutions and thaw credit markets are starting to bite. Germany's DAX 30 rose about 0.1% 4669.440 and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.4%.

Luxury-home values in central London, the world's most expensive location for prime real estate after Monaco, fell for an eighth month in November as fewer sellers held out over prices.

The FTSE 100 Index rose 1.5% to 4288.01. Standard Chartered rose 10% and British Airways rose 5.6%.

The estimated average value of houses and apartments in London's nine most expensive neighborhoods declined 3.6% in November from the previous month, according to Knight Frank. That's the second-largest drop since the index was started in 1976.

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