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Tuesday 02nd of December 2008
February 9, 2007

Markets end week higher; crude oil, precious metals prices up


by Elaine Frei

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The Tokyo equities markets made up for Thursday’s declines by gaining substantially on Friday, led by a recovery in the shipping sector and advances in banking. The Nikkei 225 added 1.23 percent on the session to 17,504.33, while the Topix index gained 1.45 percent to close at 1,745.09. However, the tobacco sector suffered sell-offs after Japan Tobacco reduced its full-year profits estimate by 1.9 percent.

In Europe, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 added 0.3 percent over the full week, closing Friday at 1,542.21. The semiconductors sector had a good week, while energy stocks were mixed on bids news and less solid rumors.

London markets were higher as well on Friday and for the full week, ending with a new six-year high for the FTSE 100 and another all-time high for the FTSE 250. The 100 was 0.5 percent higher on Friday and 1.1 percent higher on the week, closing at 6,382.8, while the 250 closed at 11,522.8, up 0.7 percent on the day and 1.6 percent higher over the week. Broker comments drove much of the activity.

On Wall Street, midday trade saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 each 0.1 percent higher, to 12,666.31 and 1,450.34 respectively. By the middle of Friday’s session, the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.4 percent for the week, to 2,487.28. Carmakers General Motors and Ford both saw gains on the day and on the week, but subprime mortgage lenders were down after warnings during the week. The mortgage insurance sector managed to end the week higher, but not as high as they had been before the warnings from HSBC and others.

Crude oil prices were up over the week, was were prices for heating oil and natural gas. Friday’s price for West Texas Intermediate crude rose above $60.00 on Friday, but was not able to maintain that level for long. In other commodities, gold and platinum were both up this week, but base metals were mixed.

The yen, sterling and the Swiss franc were all weaker over the week, while the euro gained versus both the US dollar and sterling. The yen was unsettled all week in anticipation of what would be said about it during the meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bankers this weekend in Germany. European members had been expressing concern about the yen’s weakness recently, but Japan and the US both said that there was no cause to be concerned.

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