Strong start to a 'crucial year'

ENCOURAGING bond auctions in Italy and Spain have helped push up commodities this week, with copper prices nearing $US8000 a tonne.

London Metal Exchange cash copper prices closed at $7995.50/t overnight, up 5.6% from a closing price of $7569.25/t last Friday.

By the same comparison, LME cash nickel was up 4.7% to $19,641/t overnight.

Singapore Tapis crude has been relatively flat for the week overall and closed at $123.06 a barrel last night.

Spot gold is trading at around $1643.38 an ounce early this afternoon - up about 1.6% from the end of last week.

Macquarie Private Wealth analysts said 2012 would be a crucial year as the economic and political decisions made would lay the foundations for the world economy and financial markets for the rest of the decade.

"The survival of the euro [currency] will be the most pressing issue that will have to be resolved this year," MPW said in a report.

"Other important issues include the ability of the US to generate sufficient employment growth and whether Japan can shake off deflation."

MPW said the most important period this year would be October to November, in which timeframe the leadership transition in China and the US presidential election would occur.

"The coincidence of the US presidential election and the leadership transition in China could have huge implications for asset prices," MPW said.

"With many other national leaders falling like dominoes in 2011, the politics of the key global economies will add a new layer of uncertainty."

Most stocks on our watchlists are up this week.

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