19 April 2013: Volatility reflects bearish mood

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Wall Street fell further yesterday after disappointing forecasts by eBay and other heavy weight US-companies. Present quarterly results raise increased doubt on the market’s recent strength. eBay dropped 5,9%, and Apple shares extended their slide from Wednesday breaking the USD 400 level. The S&P technology index fell 1,4% after two sharp declines earlier in the week. The volatility index, Wall Street’s fear index, gained 6,4 as a reflex of increased market nervousness. Other decliners included Morgan Stanley. The flagship bank fell 5,4% adding to the bearish mood.

As global policymakers started their G-20 meetings in Washington yesterday there is growing concern about currency fluctuations and volatility. Key central banks are printing money and pumping new liquidity into markets. This tends to create more speculative bubbles than working places. The yen (JPY) fell broadly Friday morning after the Japanese Finance Minister stated that Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) aggressive monetary stimulus is aimed at defeating deflation. USD/JPY trades at 98,53 with the dollar raising 0,4%.

As the G20 meeting ends today there are deep worries on what easily can develop into a currency war. In its semi-annual report on currency practices US put Japan on notice. Japan’s economic policies are watched closely to ensure that Japan is not aiming at devaluing the yen to gain competitive advantage. Competitors in South East Asia as South Korea are especially concerned. A rapid raise in dollar versus Yen at these level, seems, however, not likely. USD/JPY has already depreciated 20% since last November. A strong short term gain in USD/JPY might, however, occur after the G-20 meeting is over. G-20 is expected to confirm the pledge from February to avoid competitive currency devaluations.

Euro/USD recovered to 1.3068 after a sharp drop during yesterday. In a meeting on Thursday the EU agreed to move ahead with a system of winding down banks without changing EU law. This would give the EU bank resolution mechanism a stronger legal basis. The resolution comes after a stormy debate in the European Parliament where both the EU Commission and the European Central bank came under heavy fire for their handling of the Cyprus banking crisis. In an interview the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, stated that changes to EU-treaties are more a long term goal than a condition for a banking union to operate.

The recent plunge in gold prices have led to a rally in India and China to buy gold and silver coins and products. Retail buyers see the steep fall in prices as a buying opportunity. Gold trades at USD 1398 up from a bottom level on 1322 earlier in the week. Silver has rebounded from USD 22,76 to 23,46. It is, too, early, to say whether we are witnessing a more firm upward trend; or increasing prices shall be seen as a natural technical correction.

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