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Markets rally in year's first day of trading

Latest update : 2009-01-02

European markets closed up at the end of 2009's first trading day. Commodities were up on higher energy and metals prices, and bank shares also rose. Wall Street also opened up, adding to positive sentiment.

REUTERS - European shares closed higher on Friday, the first trading day of the year, with commodity shares rising on higher energy and metals prices, banks gaining and a strong opening on Wall Street adding to positive sentiment.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares rose 2.6 percent to close unofficially at 853.74 points.

The index rose 6.2 percent over the shortened week, but fell more than 44 percent in 2008, hurt by a credit crisis that helped to tip several major economies into recession.

The rise for shares on Friday came despite the first economic news of 2009 -- notably in manufacturing and housing -- being just as downbeat as that of the latter half of 2008. Analysts say all the bad news is already in the share prices.

"From a contrarian point of view, it's encouraging. If you don't buy now, you will never buy," said Giuseppe-Guido Amato, strategist at Lang & Schwarz in Germany.

"Every headline I see, every estimate I see on the economy is bad, and the expectations are so, so low."

Oil shares added most to the index, as crude futures managed to retain most of their gains from the previous ession, and were trading above $44 a abrrel.

BP, ENI Royal Dutch Shell and Total were up between 4.2 and 5.1 percent.
 Across Europe, Germany's DAX, France's CAC 40 and Britain's FTSE 100 were up between 2.4 and 3.5 percent.

As European bourses were closing, shares in the Unitd States were off to a strong start for 2009. The  Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were up between 1.6 and 1.8 percent.

Date created : 2009-01-02

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