Fearful end to the week

PLENTY of red screens greeted traders this morning with most major international indexes down by 1.5-3%.

The NASDAQ is down 3.06%, America's S&P 500 has fallen 2.58%, Japan's Nikkei 225 has shed 1.53% and Australia's ASX 200 is down 1.96% this morning.

Stock markets have notched up some impressive gains since March, but weak manufacturing data from the US has helped stoke fears the six-month recovery might have actually been a bear market rally.

Asia-Pacific benchmark Singapore Tapis crude has been under $US70 a barrel for most of the week, closing at a weekly low of $66.65 on Monday.

But in some encouraging news for petroleum stocks, last night the price closed at $71.33/bbl, up 4% from the previous day.

Spot gold has just climbed above the $1000 an ounce mark yet again, reaching $1000.15/oz this morning.

The recent strength in the precious metal might be attributed to the economic uncertainty and fears of inflation in the coming years, though India is moving into its festival and wedding season, which traditionally lifts demand.

London Metal Exchange official cash prices for copper were flat for the week, at $6082 a tonne, with the same story for nickel, which is at $17,565/t.

For PNG-focused stocks, all the companies involved in oil and gas production or exploration have been hurt by lagging energy prices this week.

Copper and gold plays have gained some ground in what has been a lacklustre past few days for industry news in the Australia-Pacific region.

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