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THE TIPSTER

RETAIL sales might have been under pressure during the downturn but last week&rsquo;s bigger-than-expected rise and a flurry of good corporate results have boosted the outlook. Picks of the sector are Mothercare, Britvic and online retailer ASOS. Mothercare came out with some great results on Wednesday and although the shares look relatively expensive at a 10-year high, not only is it weathering the economic downturn, but it has also increased its dividend. Capital Spreads is offering a rolling contract quote of 417.2-421.6p. Another company to increase its dividend is juice manufacturer Britvic, whose wide range of drinks means it is well diversified. Its current spread is 296.6-298.7p.<br /><br />Online stores have been benefiting in the downturn and ASOS shares have risen from around 200p to above 400p this month, with plenty of buying interest continuing in the past week despite a slight dip in price. Spreadex has a June-based contract with a spread of 367.4-373.6p.<br /><br />Commodities are also hot picks this week. Gold is still proving a popular buy thanks to rising government debt and the deteriorating economic situation in the US. Talk in the markets now seems to be how much higher it will go beyond the $1,000/ounce mark rather than whether we will see a breach of this level. CMC Markets is currently quoting $951.50-952.00.<br /><br />Crude oil is trading back above $60 per barrel, and spread betters are showing renewed interest in the blue-chip oil companies. As the dash for trash wears thin, the focus is now on quality stocks, and BP fits the bill perfectly. ETX Capital is quoting 499-502p for the June contract.<br /><br />Copper has also recently broken back through the $2/pound level and copper miner <strong>EMED Mining</strong> stands to benefit as it can activate its former Rio mine in Spain at low cost. IG Index offers a December contract of 5.489-5.838p.<br /><br />Another small-cap worth a long right now could be Futuragene, which develops environmentally friendly solutions to enhance crop yields. A recent deal with CBD Technologies and Targeted Growth Inc aimed at developing a new type of corn has meant interest in the stock has soared. Spreadex is quoting a spread of 56.8-60.4p.