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Financial Focus

MARIO MONTI was handed the task on Sunday night of forming an emergency government led by technocrats, as Italy’s head of state raced to win broad political consensus before financial markets opened on Monday. Giorgio Napolitano, the 86-year-old president, who has been instrumental in guiding Italy through its political crisis, formally asked the unelected Mr Monti to take charge less than 24 hours after Silvio Berlusconi resigned as prime minister after parliament’s approval of some reforms demanded by the EU.

EU LEADERS are due to meet in Brussels on December 9th, when they have asked EU President Herman van Rompuy to present them with a report on a “timeframe for the further strengthening of the Eurozone” that should include “the question of possible treaty changes,” the German Finance Ministry said.

JAPAN’s gross domestic product grew to an annualized 6% in the last quarter, the government said today. This is the first expansion after three quarters of economic contraction, and added to evidence the country is recovering from a record earthquake in March.

MARKETS:

THE MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed through the night, after losing 2.4% last week, and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average is poised for the biggest advance in a week.

S&P 500 futures rose overnight, signalling the US equity benchmark may extend last week’s 0.8% advance. The US index has risen 0.5% this year, the best performance among benchmark stock gauges in 24 developed markets.

EUROPEAN benchmark indexes are expected to rise today, extending the previous session’s rally as investors bet new leaders in Italy and Greece will speed up reforms to tackle the two countries’ debt problems.

CURRENCIES:

THE EURO rose for a third day on prospects investor confidence in Italy’s ability to contain its debt will be revived after Mario Monti, a former European Union competition commissioner, takes over as prime minister. The euro has declined 0.8% over the past six months, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes that track 10 developed market currencies.

ENERGY:

OIL traded near the highest level in more than three months as Japan reported its first economic growth in a year and Italy started building a new government that may help contain the European debt crisis. Oil has also gained amid signs of rising political tension in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, plans to “rebuild and modernize” its armed forces as it confronts regional risks, military Chief of Staff Gen. Hussein al-Qubail said yesterday.

COMMODITIES:

COPPER prices in London rose for a second day, reaching as high as $7,933 a metric ton. The metal jumped by the daily maximum set by the Shanghai Futures Exchange with the January delivery contract rising as much as 6%. Stockpiles of copper monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell for a 17th session to the lowest level since mid February.

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