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Another grueling week for Wall Street could be in store, even as some see value among the wreckage wrought so far this year as fretful investors remain jumpy over prospects for the economy and wary of more trouble at bond insurers.
U.S. crude oil futures extended a rally Friday afternoon to above $91 amid supply concerns raised by Exxon Mobil's dispute with Venezuela.
From the deadline for the Northern Rock bids to the rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, here are the events that have shaped this week:
The euro recovered a little Friday but was on track for its biggest weekly fall versus the dollar in 1-1/2 years amid growing expectations the European Central Bank will cut interest rates later this year.
The energy complex may go into this weekend on a high note. Oil prices have rallied about $3 from yesterday's intraday low. Some traders are telling me it's mostly short-covering, with the bears unable to push prices all the way down to $86.
In remarks to an audience in Honolulu, Yellen said that an extended spell of slow growth as the most likely outcome, but she later told reporters that a recession was within the range of normal forecasting error.
The Japanese market fell 1.4 percent in a quiet Friday session. But Australia finished 1.1 percent higher. Volumes were thin with many investors away for the lunar new year.
Japan's core machinery orders fell more than expected in December, suggesting that corporate activity is feeling the pinch from slowing U.S. growth. But manufacturers still forecast that core orders, regarded as a leading indicator of capital spending, would rise in January-March from the previous quarter.
For most of the year, the three floors that separate energy and metals trading here at the NYMEX have been a tale of two markets. Crude oil prices have slid from the $100 peak to plunge nearly 8 percent so far this year, while gold prices have surged 8 percent.
Both the euro and the pound retreated against the U.S. dollar as the Bank of England cut interest rates and the European Central Bank appeared to leave the door open for an eventual reduction.
The European Central Bank kept its main rate on hold at 4 percent as expected on Thursday, despite mounting pressure for an easing in monetary policy to help avert a global recession.
Oil rose back above $87 a barrel in choppy trading on Thursday as a Wall Street-led recovery in global stock markets overshadowed concerns about weakening demand in the world's top oil consumer, the United States.
The U.S. economy showed further signs of slowing, particularly with Thursday's report that the jobless ranks continued to swell last week
Jobless claims fell by 22,000 last week, but the number of workers remaining on jobless aid rose to its highest in more than two years.
U.S. companies that have slammed the brakes on spending and staffing will likely tighten further after Tuesday's report of a sharp decline in the services sector.
The ECB decided to hold its main rate at 4% today, while the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have been cutting rates. See how the rates compare for the past 10 years...
The Bank of England cut its main interest rate by a quarter point to 5.25 percent on Thursday, as widely expected, amid worries about a slowdown in the economy.
Japan ended higher Thursday, rebounding from early losses, but Australia closed lower, hitting a five-day low as investors remained sidelined after recent signs that the U.S. economy is headed into recession.
Japan's foreign reserves, the world's second largest after China, hit a record high of $996 billion at the end of January as falling interest rates boosted the value of foreign bonds in the stockpile.
The Bank of England is widely expected to cut interest rates by 25 basis points Thursday, for the second time in three months, in a delicate balancing act between offsetting the impacts of a slowing economy and fending off inflation.
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