Optimism returns

MOST ASX-listed but PNG-flavoured stocks are up this week, with nickel prices starting to recover.

While the Ramu nickel cobalt mine in Papua New Guinea is largely sheltered from nickel prices with a guaranteed market in China, the lift is still good news for the operation, which recently loaded its first export shipment.

London Metal Exchange spot nickel closed at $US16,949 a tonne overnight, an encouraging gain of 2.3% from last Friday.

By the same comparison, LME cash copper was up 1.6% to $7885.25/t last night, with the $8000/t level again in its sights.

Spot gold was trading at $US1726.75 an ounce in the past 30 minutes, down 1.5% from last Friday's close.

Singapore Tapis crude was generally flat for the overall week and closed at $113.83 a barrel overnight.

Interestingly, most TSX-listed PNG players were down, with Canadian investors not as convinced about the prospects of so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations in the US.

The prevalence of the "fiscal cliff" talk in mainstream media is somewhat reminiscent of the "green shoots" mantra of several years ago, with the US remaining in difficult economic circumstances since 2008.

The European sovereign debt crisis is still lurking, but there is good near-term news in the fact that the most crash-likely months of September and October are well behind us and a traditional Christmas rally may be on the cards.

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