The Year of The Dragon Begins (Financial Week in Review, Jan. 23-27)

World markets were mixed this week, with Europe again feeling the cost of the debt crisis, and Asia seeing an upswing during the New Year.

In New York the Dow-Jones slipped -74.17 points, or -0.58%, landing at 12,660.50. The S&P edged down -2.10 points, or -0.16%, ending at 1,316.33.
The Nasdaq managed to gain 11.27 points, or 0.40%, finishing at 2,816.55 at the close of Friday’s trading.

North of the Big Apple, Canada’s TSX Composite inched up 0.02%, or 2.18 points, to close at 12,466.50.

Markets were down across the board in Europe as the continent’s uncertainty over the debt crisis wears on. France’s CAC-40 took the biggest hit, losing -44.47, or -1.32%, and closing at 3,318.76. Across the channel in London, the FTSE 100 closed down -61.75 points, or -1.07%, at 5,733.45. The IBEX 35 of Spain lost -56.50 points, or -0.65%. Germany’s DAX closed at 6,511.98, losing -27.87 points or -0.43%.

In Asia, the numbers were looking mostly up, led by the Shanghai Composite, which finished up 23.66 points, or 1.03%, at 2,319.74. The Hang Seng was next, with a gain of 62.53 points, or 0.31%, ending at 20,501.70. The Nikkei finished down slightly, at 8,841.22, with a loss of just -8.25 points, or -0.09%.

Gold has been enjoying an upswing during the Chinese New Year, with a troy ounce commanding $1,735.40 at the close of trading on Friday, an increase of 0.32% or $5.50 per ounce. Silver was up ever so slightly, fetching $33.80 per troy ounce, an incease of 0.14%.

Gold adjusted back to just under $1,720 per ounce in after hours trading over the weekend, and silver corrected to $33.20, down $0.60 an ounce.

Brent crude closed over $111.00 per barrel on Friday, a gain of 0.60%. Light, sweet crude closed at $99.50 per barrel, down ever so slightly. The national average for gasoline is currently $3.43 per gallon, according to AAA.

Most agricultural futures were down, with the main exception being corn, which gained 1.14%.

Speculation continues as to exactly when social media giant Facebook will launch its IPO, reportedly with the assistance of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, but it could be as soon as this week or as late as this summer.

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued its quarterly report on Friday, indicating that the national gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, a full one-percent increase in the gdp from the previous quarter. This was the largest gain in the gdp in the past 18 months.
Read the full text of the report here: