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Goldman Sachs now sees oil surging higher in 2011, 2012 Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, May 24. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Goldman boosts oil forecast Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which only last month sparked a plunge in oil prices that launched a rout in the commodities markets, now says crude will be higher than it forecast earlier.

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Goldman now says investors should buy oil and some other commodities such as copper .

Goldman raised its 12-month price forecast for Brent crude to $130 a barrel from $107, and increased the end-2012 forecast to $140 from $120, citing global economic growth and tight OPEC spare capacity, our Market Blog reports. Goldman also recommended buying December 2012 ICE Brent crude oil futures.

"We expect that the ongoing loss of Libyan crude oil production and disappointing non-OPEC production will continue to tighten the oil market," Goldman said. "It's only a matter of time until inventories and OPEC spare capacity will become effectively exhausted, requiring higher oil prices to restrain demand."

Morgan Stanley also raised its 2011 Brent crude forecast to $120 a barrel, from $100 previously, and lifted its 2012 target to $130, from $105.

Blackstone to sell properties Blackstone Group LP wants to sell $900-million of Canadian office buildings , as it looks to shed its Canadian real estate at a time of high demand, Globe and Mail real estate writer Steve Ladurantaye reports today.

Blackstone - the world's largest private equity group - owns 29 buildings in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary. Possible buyers would include real estate investment trusts and the country's pension funds.

Europe's woes mount There are new problems in the Old World.

Europe's debt crisis remains front and centre today on several fronts. First, Moody's Investor Service warned this morning that a credit default by Greece would whack others in the so-called periphery of the euro zone.

"A Greek default would be highly destabilising and would have implications for the creditworthiness of issuers across Europe," the agency's chief credit officer for the area, Alastair Wilson, told Reuters. Greece maintains it will not default or restructure its debts, though other officials in the EU have raised the possibility of what they calls "soft restructuring" that would push out maturity dates.

As well today, the main opposition party in Greece said it would not support Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for another round of austerity measures. The prime minister meets opposition politicians today.

And separately, Moody's said it is studying whether to downgrade the ratings of 14 British banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.

As our European correspondent Eric Reguly reports, the debt crisis yesterday hit Italy and worsened in Spain, triggering a selloff that rocked global markets.

Blockbuster parent wants to sever ties Blockbuster Inc.'s new parent wants to sever ties with its former Canadian subsidiary by forcing Blockbuster Canada to rename itself, but the receiver tasked with selling the Canadian chain is asking a U.S. court to ignore the request, The Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye reports today.

Blockbuster Canada was put into receivership earlier this month, and will be sold to pay $70-million in debt racked up by its former parent company.

The parent company was sold in an auction to Dish Network Corp. last month, for $320-million. The sale didn't include the Canadian subsidiary.

Rename yourself, parent tells Blockbuster

Canadians a happy group Canadians are a fairly happy lot, according to a new measure launched today by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Indeed, we're much happier with our lives than most of our counterparts in the 33 other member countries.

As The Globe and Mail's Renata D'Aliesio reports today, Canada ranks at or near the top in many of 11 well-being indicators in the new quality of life index. Only Australia came out ahead.

Some 78 per cent of Canadians say they're satisifed with their lives, far higher than the OECD average of 59 per cent, according to the group's Better Life Index, which is meant to measure much more than the traditional gross domestic product as a snapshot.

Many countries are moving toward such a measure.

According to the OECD, which launched an interactive tool, Canada is among the top countries based on data from 2008 or later.

Here are some of the Canadian rankings:

  • Household net adjusted disposable income per capital, No. 3
  • Household net financial wealth per capita, No. 6
  • Employment rate, No. 10
  • Long-term unemployment rate, fifth from bottom (the smaller the number, the better the showing)
  • Rooms per person, No. 1
  • Life expectancy at birth, No. 10

Canadians do not rank well in terms of time devoted to leisure and personal care, ranking fourth from the bottom.

"Canada performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index," the group said. "Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards."

In Economy Lab today

Like Canada, the euro zone has free flows of capital and a system of transfers that redistributes income across regions. But the key condition that Canada satisfies - and which Europe does not - is labour mobility. Stephen Gordon takes an in-depth look.

In International Business today

Manulife Financial Corp. has been quietly experimenting with text message payments in remote parts of Vietnam, where for a little more than a year it has been offering life insurance policies with premiums of roughly $1 a month. The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports.

  • In Personal Finance today

Take precautions to prevent being ripped off by sketchy companies when heading for new digs, Dakshana Bascaramurty writes.

With many sales people working on straight commissions, you have to protect yourself from unscrupulous sales tactics. Preet Banerjee explains how.

Tell a PR person you'll spread the word about their city's attractions and you'll net some discounts, says Angela Self.

From today's Report on Business

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