Manufacturing activity in the United States surprisingly contracted in November, dropping to its lowest level in three years. The fiscal cliff remains, however, investors’ primary focus. The political haggling over how to deal with large automatic spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to kick in at the beginning of the new year, threatens to threw the US economy into new recession. Both Dow Jones and Nasdaq fell back after three straight winning days for the US indexes. The S&P index which composes an average of US stocks, are in spite of yesterday’s weakness still up 12, 1 percent in 2012, making stocks one of the assets classes winners.
Asian bourses and the Japanese Nikkei edged down in early Tuesday trading when the weak US data triggered profit-taking on exporters. The US economy is key to the fortunes of Japanese exporters which rely heavily on consumption in the world biggest economy. Asian markets got a boost over the weekend when the Chinese economy demonstrated healthy manufacturing data and strong signals for a rebound. Yesterday’s gains were eaten by a new cold shower from the US. The Japanese yen which recently has fallen against the USD, fluctuated heavily yesterday. After USD/JPY had traded at its lowest levels in weeks, JPY recovered strongly on the weak US manufacturing data. It is now trading at 82,10.
The Euro/USD is still strong. It rose to 1.3076 during yesterday’s trading, the highest level seen since October 22. The Euro dropped against yen after rising to a seven-month high on 107,67 on Monday. A Greek bond buyback scheme at 65 – 70 % reduction of nominal value has attracted interest and also strengthened the common currency. There are small changes in other currency pairs. Australian dollar is stabile against yen and USD, and the Scandinavian currencies are demonstrating strength both against USD and Euro. EURO/USD is trading at 1.3054 at present.
Oil prices are down. Brent crude has tipped down a dollar to 110,54. Precious metals are also trading lower. After recovering from end of last week’s steep fall from 1750-level to 1707, gold traded at 1721 yesterday. This morning gold has dropped down to 1703, a fall of 15 dollar an ounce.
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