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While you were sleeping: Businesswire weekend wrap

Monday 7th July 2008

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Wall Street will have a chance to change direction, or at least pause its recent decline, with the start of the second-quarter earnings season in the US though the prospect of still-higher crude oil prices may keep investors on edge.

Last week marked the fifth straight weekly decline for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, and the Dow's third straight week of losses. US markets were closed on Friday for the Independence Day holiday.

Aluminium maker Alcoa will release its quarterly numbers on Tuesday while GE, often seen as a bellwether for the US economy, will report earnings on Friday. Both are members of the Dow.

Aside from whether second-quarter results meet expectations, the focus for the current earnings season will be on what company executives have to say about the outlook for global growth and sales.

Canada's Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index fell 0.9% on Friday as retreating metals prices dragged down raw-materials producers. Brazil's Bovespa index climbed 0.2%, while most stocks in the index declined.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed as the measure completed a four-week, 12% slide, the longest streak of declines since the period ended February 8. Nine stocks fell for every eight that rose.

UK, Europe

Not to be outdone, British stocks fell on Friday, recording their seventh consecutive week of losses. The FTSE 100 shed 63.8 points, or 1.2%, to 5,412.8 in thin trading volumes.

Friday's slide came after a report by Goldman Sachs which said European banks might need as much as 90 billion euros in capital. The U.S. investment bank also said it lowered estimates covering 2008 to 2010 for more than 40 banks and cut target prices on many.

A slide in the price of U.S. crude oil also took the wind out of some U.K.-listed energy stocks.

US crude oil was down $1.44 at $143.85 a barrel by 1:00pm EDT on Friday, below the all-time high of $145.85 hit on Thursday. The contract has risen more than 50% this year. London Brent was down $1.66 at $144.42.

The euro was last flat at $1.5690 after dropping to a one-week low of $1.5654 earlier. The dollar was down 0.1% at 106.62 yen, but hit a one-week high versus a basket of six major currencies at 72.849.

Metals Fall

Lead for delivery in three months closed $42 lower, or 2.6%, at $1,568 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. It fell 13% on the week, the largest such decline since the five days ended May 23. The metal has lost 39% this year, making it the biggest loser on the LME.

Supply will outpace demand by 130,000 tons this year, Goldman Sachs JBWere said July 2. That's 29% more than all the lead held in warehouses monitored by the LME.

Copper slid for a second day, hurt by the stronger dollar, which erodes the appeal of commodities as an alternative investment. The contract fell $172.50, or 2%, to $8,472.50 a ton, the first weekly decline in three. Losses accelerated on signs a nationwide mining strike that started June 30 in Peru may end.

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