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    MORNING BELL: Sterling firmer in sleepy start to holiday week

    Sterling scaled a six-week peak early on Monday following recent hawkish-sounding comments from the Bank of England, while the other major currencies were subdued in a holiday-riddled week. U.K. stocks jumped Friday, as gains for shares of miner Anglo American PLC and other companies that harvest natural resources pushed the benchmark FTSE 100 to a weekly gain. The key index UKX rose 0.7% to 6,873.52 and closed the week up by 0.3%.

    U.S. markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents' Day holiday, while many centers in Asia will be closed later this week for the Lunar New Year holidays. Hong Kong stocks extended gains Friday, as financial shares continued to advance after recent easing moves by China’s central bank. The Hang Seng Index ended up 1.1% at 24,682.54, marking its biggest rise in three weeks.

    Gold pared gains after rising one percent on Friday, on track for a small weekly loss, as the dollar steadied following weaker than expected U.S. economic data.



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