North American markets bounce back as energy and mining stocks recover slightly

TORONTO — North American equity markets rose as energy and mining stocks recovered despite a continuing decline in commodity prices.The S&P/TSX composite index rose 79 points to close at 13,016.59, adding to a meagre 15-point gain on Wednesday after Canada’s main index tumbled more than 430 points earlier in the week.New York indexes also rose, following a three-day losing streak.The Dow Jones added 82.45 points to close at 17,574.75, while the S&P 500 climbed 4.61 points to 2,052.23 and the Nasdaq rose 22.30 points to 5,045.17.On commodity markets, the January contract for benchmark oil lost 40 cents to US$36.76 a barrel, January natural gas gave back almost five cents to settle at US$2.015 per mmBtu and February gold fell $4.50 to US$1,072.00 an ounce.Falling oil helped pull the loonie down 0.36 of a cent to 73.36 cents U.S. The Canadian dollar has lost more than a cent and a half in value against the greenback since Dec. 3. read more

As cold weather grips Afghanistan UN reviews winter preparedness programme

Nigel Fisher, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan told reporters in Kabul that the demand for winter support is much greater than expected. While the winter preparedness programme was covering about 2.1 million of the most vulnerable Afghans, Mr. Fisher said, “we are getting from governors and others who say that besides those poorest of the poorer, we still have a lot of people who need emergency aid.”Meanwhile, Mr. Fisher also gave some details on the appeal for next year’s “Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan,” which will be launched 17 to 18 December in Oslo. “We will tell the donors that less resources needs to come through the UN, more should go directly through the government,” he said.In other news, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that following the deaths of 10 children, delivery of emergency winter supplies is continuing for 3,350 internally displaced families in Spin Boldak.According to a health expert, the recent severe drop in temperature – to 15 degrees below zero – seems to have been the primary cause of the deaths. This region of Afghanistan reportedly rarely experiences sub-zero temperatures, even during the height of the winter. read more