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Dow Jones hits a 4.5 year high of 11,000

The Dow Jones industrial average broke above 11,000 for the first time in 4 1/2 years on Monday, with stocks headed for a fifth straight day of gains as shares of General Motors Corp. and financial companies gained after brokerage upgrades. Dow hitting 11,000 is “psychologically key" for the market. GM shares climbed 5.5 percent to $21.94 on the New York Stock Exchange after one broker raised its rating on GM to "in-line" from "underperform."

Oil Prices Skyrocket Overnight

World oil prices surged to the highest levels in almost three months after Russia's energy row with neighbour Ukraine disrupted gas supplies across Europe, hit also by cold weather.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in February, rocketed $US1.96 to $US63 per barrel in pit deals, compared with Friday's close before the long New Year holiday weekend.

General Motors (GM) shares fall to 18-year low

Shares of General Motors fell to an 18-year low after Toyota unveiled production plans for 2006, increasing fears that GM will be toppled by its Japanese rival as the world's largest automaker.

Toyota said it plans to make a record 9.06 million cars in 2006, just shy of the 9.15 million cars and trucks that some analysts expect GM to build next year.

[Week 51 2005] Gold Profit-Taking

Gold Profit Taking after Recent All Time Gold Highs: Profit-taking has weighed on gold since last Monday when gold futures climbed as high as $US544.50 an ounce, the latest in a series of quarter-century highs for the precious metal.

With Friday's close of $US505.90, however, futures had shed 4.8 per cent, or $US24.30, over the week.

"If you look at charts, there seems to have been a pretty strong correlation of late between the gold and the Australian dollar," he said. And despite a healthier-than-expected US current account deficit on Friday, the US currency weakened.

China - Now the World's Fourth Largest Economy

This year, China will outstrip the UK to become the world's fourth largest economy. A new economic census, which has probed the murky depths of China's grey economy, with its cash-only back-alley businesses, decided that the Chinese economy is actually 20 per cent bigger than the official figures suggest.

Overnight Wall St Rally

Dow Jones Up - Tech Stocks let down by Apple, Boeing Soars on News of $US14.4 billion Qantas Deal: US stocks traded mostly higher overnight, with the main broad-market index touching a four-and-a-half-year high as Wall Street extended a rally on hopes that the recent cycle of interest rate hikes has ended.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.56 per cent, or 61.15 points, to 10,884.87, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.10 per cent, or 2.34 points, to 2,262.66 at the closing bell.

The Federal Reserve Hikes Up Rates - End in Rate Rises in Sight

The US Federal Reserve overnight lifted US borrowing costs for the 13th time running but signalled a possible end to its campaign of rate hikes as chairman Alan Greenspan prepares to retire.

As expected, the US central bank raised the benchmark interest rate paid by banks on overnight loans by a quarter point to 4.25 percent. The rate steers lending costs throughout the world's biggest economy.

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Gold Price bounces lower after hitting $US540.90

Gold opened weaker in Asia on Tuesday after soaring overnight to fresh quarter century highs above $US540 an ounce on frantic buying by momentum-chasing speculative funds. Analysts say investors were keen to take profits ahead of Wednesday's anticipated interest rate rise by the US Federal Reserve.

OPEC set to hold oil production quota levels

OPEC members gathering in Kuwait overnight looked poised to hold their production quotas, but pressure was growing for another meeting next month to address an expected drop in demand for oil.

Ministers from the 11-nation Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meet on Monday in Kuwait City, where they are expected to maintain the quota of 28 million barrels per day (bpd).

Opinions are split however on whether OPEC should renew a pledge to make an extra two million bpd available to the oil market for another three months.

Gold's Largest Move in Four Years

Gold has broken above $US500 an ounce it is soaring. The spot gold price jumped more than $US7 an ounce, or 1.4 per cent, in New York to close at a new 24-year high of $US529.50.

Gold rallied 4.6 per cent last week, its biggest weekly gain in almost four years, on heavy buying from the Middle East and Asia, where investors have been mopping up the precious metal to diversify from the US dollar and US-dollar-denominated assets.

The World Gold Council said demand for coins, bars and bullion-backed shares jumped 56 per cent in the July- September period.

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