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Out of the blocks

“And you thought 2011 was tough?” So went the headlines in December as media and market pundits, reflecting on a miserable year, saw no respite for investors in 2012. But markets have a funny way of confounding expectations.

To be sure, the reasons to be anxious were piling high as the year turned, with European politicians dithering over how to tackle a tottering mountain of sovereign debt, policymakers in the US running short of options, and emerging