Crude oil retreats after surging to as high as 79.05. We have a light calendar today and without much support from strong economic data or industry news, it's very likely for the benchmark contract to record a first daily drop in 9 days.

Gold recovers modestly as buying interest was seen above 1040. We expect the yellow metal to trade sideways in the week before recent uptrend resumes.

The dollar plunges again and the recovery proves to be short-lived. Near-term outlook on USD remains week as the global recovery theme should continue to drive investors to higher-yield investments.

Today, assistant RBA governor Philip Lowe said that it was 'appropriate' for the central bank to tighten monetary policy as economy improves. 'There are reasonable grounds for optimism about the prospects for the Australian economy over the decade ahead... Australia finds itself in a better position than most o the other advanced economies'. The comments signaled for rate hikes from RBA after the 25-bps-increase earlier in the month.

Bullish comments from Australia spurred speculations that its closest counterpart, New Zealand, will also end its easing cycle soon. While the RBNZ maintained the OCR at 2.5% and said that it will keep it low until later part of 2010, the market has factored in a rate hike as early as in 1Q10.

Speculations in tightening policies drive both Aussie and Kiwi higher. Currently trading at 0.92, Australian dollar is trading at a level not seen since August 2008 and is less than 10% below its all-time high.

Stock markets strengthen as led by energy and technology sector. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added +0.5%. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index gained +2.1% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose +1.2%. Advance in equity market was driven by anticipation that China, the world's growth driver, will report +9% GDP growth in 3Q09, the faster pace since September 2008.

In European morning, stocks climb higher as investors await earning results. UK's FTSE adds +0.7% to 5261 while Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 soar +1.4% to 5825 and 3879 respectively.