Friday, December 30, 2011

Asia stocks end 2011 sharply lower, Europe in focus

[ via Reuters ] 30 Dec

 Asian stocks were poised to end their first losing year in three on Friday, having shed nearly a fifth of their value as Europe's debt crisis and financial turmoil took a toll on investors' risk appetite, driving them to safer assets such as the U.S. dollar and gold.

European stocks were set to edge higher on the last session of a dismal year that saw them tumble about 12 percent, while U.S. futures pointed to a weaker opening on Wall Street later in the day, with the S&P 500 looking set to end the year pretty close to where it began. .EU

Commodities such as crude oil and gold fared better this year. Brent crude is set to end the year up nearly 14 percent and at a record high annual average, as political tensions in OPEC member states help negate a global economic slowdown that has dampened oil demand growth.

The oil market will end 2011 the same way it started, with fears of a major oil supply disruption in the Middle East and North Africa supporting prices and the uncertainty is expected to continue into the new year as well.

Read more: Reuters

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