Asian stocks and Euro trade stronger


Telecommunications and health stocks were the winners in New York last night as Dow Jones and Nasdaq rose marginally.  The Dow Jones  industrial average passed the 13 000 mark and seems to end the week in positive territory. Investors were buying on sporadic  dips roiled by conflicting comments from Washington about negotiations on a budget compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff”, fear for  a combination of budget cuts and tax hikes.  Wall Street reversed early gains and fell after the Speaker of the House, leading Republican John Boehner, dashed hopes that lawmakers were getting closer to a deal.  It picked up at greater optimism for a compromise at the end of the session.  The extreme volatility in the markets is probably continuing as long with the stalemate in Congress.

 Stock markets in Europe ended in positive territory yesterday on initial compromise  optimism  from both President Obama and the  House Speaker Wednesday night. The exchanges in Asia started the trading day on a positive note.  Asian shares rose to a nine-month peak Friday morning.  Japan’s industrial output rose unexpectedly 1,8 percent in October, up for the first time in four months.  This along with a new announced stimulus package from the Japanese government helped Nikkei win 0,8 %.  Also the Shanghai and Taiwan bourses produced healthy gains. The mining giant Rio Tinto is up 3 percent upon presenting savings and restructuring measures worth USD 5 billion.

 Japanese yen is losing on the stimulus plans  after gaining against the dollar earlier in the week. USD/JPY is trading at 82,45 well inside the newly established 81 – 83 corridor. Euro/USD is again stronger at 1.2999 up 50 points from yesterday’s start.  The euro reached 1.3015 on Thursday, the highest level seen since 31st October.  The euro is helped by the bail-out package for Greece.  It is expected that a skeptical German parliament will approve the support for Greece in a vote today.  This will probably give the euro a new temporary  boost.

 The US government said yesterday that third-quarter gross domestic product expanded at a 2,7 percent annual rate, the fastest pace  since late 2011.  Export growth help offset weakest consumer spending and the first drop in business investment  in more than a year. Brent crude is trading at USD 110, 49 a barrel marginally up from Thursday. US crude futures, NYMEX, is falling 0,4 percent.  Increased tensions and escalating violence in Syria and Egypt are stoking permanent fear of oil supply disruptions. Gold has gained back 20 dollars from yesterday’s steep fall and trades at 1727.  Silver is at  USD 34,20 an ounce, the same level as seen at the peak earlier in the week. 

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Focus shift back to “fiscal cliff”



Budget talks and the “fiscal cliff” is back in focus after leaving the euro finance ministers agreement on Greek debt cuts on the agenda in the very start of the week. The euro’s short won gains against the USD were eaten up during yesterday. Euro/USD is trading at 1.2939 after falling fifty basis points in the afternoon of yesterday. The Japanese Yen strengthens versus dollar. After USD/JPY has traded in the interval between 82.15 to 82,65, yen is this morning below 82 at 81,95. Asian shares ended a seven-day winning streak this morning. The share index for Asia-Pacific stocks, MSCI, fell 0,5 % and commodities eased as lack of progress in talks on US budget threatened to threw the US economy back in recession.
President Barack Obama launched yesterday a public relations push for his bid to raise taxes on wealthy Americans. US lawmakers remained, however deadlocked over dramatic year-end tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff”. Obama met with small business leaders in the White House. They urged Obama to keep the tax cuts for the middle class to increase consumption and job creation. The US tycoon, Warren Buffet, simultaneously, called on the rich to pay more and proposed a minimum tax on 30 % on incomes between USD 1 and 10 million and 35 % on incomes above.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid expressed last night disappointment over modest progress in the budget negotiations. The remarks had US stocks to slide. Dow Jones lost 0,69 percent and Nasdaq 0,30. Statistics could on the other hand report on record high Thanksgiving sales and the highest US-consumer optimism in 5 years. The Shanghai composite Index slid 0,7 % and the Chinese stock markets to its lowest in nearly four years extending earlier losses and closing below 2000 points for the first time since January 2009. The weak Chinese stock market along with increasing doubts over US ability to resolve the fiscal crisis have over the last weeks strengthened demand for sovereign debt. Japanese government bond futures rise to a 9 and half year high.
Digesting the Greek debt deal comments on Twitter dismissed it as another exercise in kicking the can down the road. A degree of kicking is obvious. There is, however a critical element in the new deal which goes further than any step taken so far to get Greece back on its feet. There is an implicit understanding that Greece will undergo some form of official-sector debt restructuring with euro zone countries at some point in the future forgiving a portion of Greece’s debt. This sort of last-ditch measure is usually reserved for impoverished states in Africa and Latin America. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble came close to acknowledging such an eventuality on a later press conference.
Oil prices are down a dollar since yesterday. Brent crude is trading at 110. Gold is also down from 1750 to 1741 breaking the good upward trend seen over the last days. Silver at USD 34 is also down.
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Euro ministers finally agree on Greek debt



Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, finally reached a deal on Monday to reduce Greece’s debt. After 12 hour of negotiations Greece’s international lenders agreed on measures to reduce Greek debt by 40 billion euro, cutting the debt ratio between debt and GDP (gross domestic product) to 124 percent by 2020. Urgently needed loans to keep the bankrupt economy afloat were simultaneously released. In a significant new pledge ministers committed themselves to lower Greece’s debt below 110 percent by 2022. This is so far the most explicit recognition that some loans have to written off from 2016 when Greece is supposed to reach a primary budget surplus.
After two weeks of haggling, markets reacted with relief on the aid package. Stock markets in Asia continued up. The MSCI index for the south Pacific region outside Japan gained 0,6 percent, and the Euro/USD is trading at its highest level in weeks at 1.2985, marginally up from yesterday. Upon the release of the news from Greece, the euro reached 1.3010. Also the Australian dollar is trading at its highest level in two months versus dollar. USD/JPY was falling in early Asian trade, but has recovered at 82,15. Dow Jones was down and Nasdaq marginally up yesterday waiting for the outcome from Brussels.
Oil prices are steady. New York crude (NYMEX) is USD 88 a barrel. Brent crude is 111,04. Commodity prices are up helped by news on big infrastructural programs in China. Gold keeps around 1750 after reaching 1754 on Friday. Silver is slightly up in the morning trade in Asia at 34,20.
The agreement in Brussels has given the market a breathing spell. Investors focus is now likely to shift back to another major concern hanging over the markets, the looming US fiscal crisis. Republicans asked on Monday president Barack Obama to detail long term spending cuts to help solve the countries fiscal crisis. The Republicans are holding firm against any income tax rate increases for the wealthy that Democrats seek. If a compromise deal on the budget drags out, new focus on the “fiscal cliff” would for sure create nervousness and dampened investors risk appetite.
With big funds winding down their positions ahead of the new year-end, many analysts see it unlikely with major changes in the currency markets. The euro which has gained two percent over the last days is not set for major new gains in the short term. Any further rise in the Euro will likely be countered by selling to cap the euro’s upside. USD/JPY has fallen considerably over the last weeks and no major development is expected before the Japanese elections in mid-December and an eventual new government’s likely monetary easing.
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EURO rises on Greek hopes



The Euro hit a seven-month high against the yen and held a one-month peak versus dollar when the trading week opened in Asia this morning. The Euro was supported by hopes that Greece will finally secure more emergency loans when EU Finance ministers meet in Brussels today. Euro/USD is trading at 1.2963 after reaching 1.2969 on Friday bringing its weekly gain to 1,75 percent and above the 1.2945 level which it began 2012.
Asian shares inched up on Monday on hopes that Greece can avoid a near term bankruptcy. A regional Spanish vote favoring separatist parties capped gains. The stock futures for US suggest a soft opening while European futures are falling. The Asian Pacific index, MSCI, rose 0,2 percent marking advance for the sixth consecutive day. There is market optimism on the euro area’s ability to reach a deal on Greece, but worries about the vote of Catalonian independence from Spain and its implications for Spain’s austerity measures and bond rates remain high.
Oil, commodities and precious metals saw gains on a weaker dollar last week. Brent crude is trading above USD 111 a barrel in Asia, and gold surpassed the 1750 level on Friday as central banks boost reserves. Both gold and silver fell somewhat back in early Asian trade. Gold dipped below 1750 and silver trades at 34,05. Gold saw its five week high helped by a weaker dollar and investor confidence. Both pension funds. Sovereign wealth funds and private investors have been buying gold along with central banks in Brazil, Russia, Mexico, India, South Korea and Thailand. The buying has also been prompted by devaluation concerns of major currencies.
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Good week for Asian shares and EURO



Stock indexes continued to rise Friday morning as Asian shares were on course for a weekly gain of more than 2 percent. The Asia Pacific MSCI rose 0,4 percent and reached the highest level seen in two months after manufacturing surveys from China and the United States raised hopes for an improving global growth outlook. Japan and US were closed due to public holidays and Thanksgiving.
EURO/USD is trading at 1.2887 with the Euro enjoying a one percent lift since last Friday’s close. This in spite of yesterday’s data pointing to the Euro zone sliding into its deepest recession since 2009. The Euro has, however, been helped by optimism that a funding deal for Greece will ultimately be found when euro finance ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.
USD/JPY eased 0,1 percent to 82,39 pulling back from Thursday’s high of 82.84 which is the dollar’s strongest level since early April. The dollar has gained 3,7 percent versus yen over the last two weeks. The yen has been weakened on expectations that the Bank of Japan shall implement more drastic monetary stimulus.
Commodity markets were quiet with oil, copper and precious metals staying course to end the week higher than they started. Brent crude is trading at USD 110, 25 and Gold is flat around 1730. Last day’s markets have been subdued by Thanksgiving and enters a new week once again with major focus on the debt crisis in Europe. While a lot of ink has been spilled on the US fiscal cliff the biggest challenge for the global economy rests with the euro zone.
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