11 JUNE 2013: USD SLIPS AGAINST YEN AND EURO

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The Bank of Japan (BOJ) did not intervene in the volatile bond market and kept monetary policy steady at yesterday’s meeting. The decision strengthened the Yen. USD/JPY trades at 98.42 EURO/USD, which started the week at 1.3193 and has climbed 80 points to 1.3272. The Dollar, which hit a 4-1/2-year peak against the Yen of 103.74 last month, has since fallen.

Asian stocks sagged to a fresh 2013 low due to the Chinese growth worries and continued uncertainty over US monetary easing and its bond buying program. The Nikkei N225 ended 0.7 % down, while USD/JPY declined 0.4 %. The South Pacific MSCI-index shed 0.9 % and fell for the fifth straight day in a row. In New York, Dow Jones ended slightly down at 15. 238. Nasdaq was in positive territory, 0.13 %, after a 1.71 % gain for Intel, which was the winner of the day.

The international rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, raised the US economic outlook to stable from negative, from the positive jobs data presented last Friday. The upgrade will contribute towards keeping the speculation about an eventual softening of FED’s strong commitment to quantitative easing alive. Both global equity and commodity markets have recently been jolted by FED stimulus concerns, slowing growth in China, contributing towards the continued recession in Europe and big turbulence in the Japanese stock and bond markets.

This volatility clearly demonstrates the weaknesses of monetary easing. It boosts liquidity and exacerbates moves in the financial markets without having a real impact on the real economy. Abenomics led to a strong stock rally and a steep fall in the Yen. Over the last two weeks Nikkei has lost 20 % and USD/JPY is up 5 % . Most analytics continue to be bullish on USD and stress that long-term capital flows are moving into US corporate bonds. This will strengthen the USD.

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07 JUNE 2013: DOLLAR PLUNGES IN BROAD SELL-OFF

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The Dollar plunged against the Euro, Japanese Yen, and other currencies as investors reduced bets on the greenback on concerns that today’s US jobs report will disappoint. Euro/USD trades at 1.3262. American stocks fell in tandem with a weaker USD, but rebounded to end in positive territory. Dow Jones added 0.53 % to climb back above the 15.000 level. Nasdaq gained 0.66 % to 3 424. The changes seem to be technically driven by psychological factors.

A poll amongst economists expects 170 000 new jobs could’ve been added to the US economy in May with an unemployment rate of 7.5 %. Fear of a weaker than expected job report prompted, however, investors to unwind bets on a stronger Dollar that had been profitable for months. Gold prices, which have been under strong pressure for months, suddenly rose 1 percent to USD 1412 an ounce as investors sold long positions on the Dollar.

The Euro gained after the European Central Bank, ECB, left interest rates unchanged. ECB President, Mario Draghi, stated that further monetary support was unlikely in the near future. ECB has kept interest rates at a record low of 0,5 % waiting for a turnaround in the Euro zone. Bank of England have also chosen to leave their loose monetary policy unchanged. British Sterling, GBP, has jumped against the Dollar at 1,5612 and gained substantially during the last few days from low 1.51 levels.

Concerns that key US job data will disappoint sent the Japanese Nikkei into bear territory in Asia this morning. The Nikkei plunged 1.9 % to a two month low. Nikkei has lost 20 % from a five-and-half-year high, just two weeks ago. Other Asian stocks failed to capitalize on overnight gains in Wall Street. The Asian Pacific MSCI-index fell 0.6 % to its lowest level since November. The fall in equities seem to indicate a stronger appetite among investors for safe haven bonds. The yield on U.S, German and Japanese bonds have risen recently.

Oil prices are higher on the back of a weaker Dollar. Brent crude trades close to USD 104 a barrel, up from the USD 100 mark earlier in the week.

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05 JUNE 2013: US AND ASIAN STOCKS DECLINE ON FED UNCERTAINTY

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Asian stocks slipped to their lowest level in 2013 as uncertainty over when the US Federal Reserve (FED) would begin scaling down its massive stimulus program. Since 2008, FED has injected 2,5 trillion dollars into bonds to boost the economy. The increased liquidity has mainly benefited US-stocks which have reached new highs, but also led to an inflow of US-funds into Asian and other markets. There are now increased worries, especially in Asia, about funds flowing out of the region.

Over the past few days, this trend has been reflected in a stronger Japanese Yen (JPY). Foreign funds have, for the last few months, been injected into a rapidly increasing and profitable Japanese stock market. Foreign capital is now taking profit and selling Yen with the effect that the JPY has increased 4 % in the last few days in relation to USD. USD/JPY fell below 100 on Monday, recovered early during Wednesday’s session, but later dipped back to 99.2 Yen to a Dollar.

US stocks ended even lower on Tuesday, resuming their recent decline, as investors sold growth-oriented sectors on speculation the Federal Reserve may slow down the pace of its economic stimulus. The indexes have fallen 2 percent from their peak on May 22nd as investors take profit. Dow Jones was down 0.50 % at 15 177. A top US-official, critical to the bond buying program, stated yesterday that FED is poised to re-evaluate and possibly make changes to its massive monetary stimulus.

FED Chairman, Ben Bernanke, has been consistent in his comments on monetary easing and stressed that proof of a real turnaround in US economy reflected in an unemployment target of 6,5, which is necessary before making changes. After the disappointing manufacturing data earlier this week, the jobless claims presented on Friday might prove decisive for whether the stimulus program is going to be continued until the end of the year.

The Dollar recovered from an early-week selloff on Wednesday while the Australian Dollar plunged to a 19 month low on the back of disappointing growth data. Euro/USD is at 1.3086 back from a one-month high on 1.3108.There is strong technical resistance at 1.3141. Oil prices are up. NYMEX is at 93,63 and Brent crude trades above USD 103 a barrel.

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04 JUNE 2013: DOLLAR DROPS ON NEW DATA

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The US Dollar suffered a serious setback and dropped to one-month lows against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday after the index on the US- manufacturing fell for the first time in six months. National factory activity sank to the lowest level seen since 2009.

The disappointing data curbed speculation that the Federal Reserve (FED) would scale back its stimulus anytime soon. The dollar index, against a basket of major currencies, DXY, fell one percent as the Japanese Yen strengthened. USD/JPY dipped below 100 for the first time in weeks at 99.70.

Long positions on USD are, therefore, likely to remain under pressure until Friday’s job reports. The unemployment numbers will have to beat the expected forecasts of 165,000 less unemployed significantly, to revive the upside momentum in the USD, analysts say.

The renewed pressure on the dollar saw the Euro/USD above the 1.31 level for the first time since May the 9th. The Euro has fallen back to 1.3063 in the early Asian trading session. USD/JPY fell as low as 98,86 and has lost 4.5 %, 4 % from the high on 103,74 set last month. The dollar’s fall against other currencies, which had lately lost ground against the dollar, was even more dramatic. The Australian dollar rallied more than 2% close to parity with the USD at 99.92.

The US data led to a turnaround in Asian stocks which recovered from their lowest levels in half a year. The Japanese Nikkei has fallen as much as 15% over the last two weeks.The American indexes initially fell on the disappointing manufacturing data, but recovered in a volatile session. Nasdaq turned positive on Intel strength, and Dow Jones gained 0,82 % at 15 239. Oil and gold prices are steady compared to yesterday. Gold is at USD 1411 an ounce and Brent crude trades at USD 101,89 a barrel.

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07 MAY 2013: BULLISH STOCK MARKETS SET FOR NEW RECORDS

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US and Asian stocks reached new record highs as the Japan’s Nikkei average soared 2,8 % on Tuesday morning. For the first time since June 2008 the Nikkei broke above 14 000 as the market played catch-up from an extended holiday. The strong US jobs data eased concern over the health of Japan’s biggest export market. Japanese exporters as Toyota, Honda and Sony led the rally jumping more than 3 %.
In the US the S& P led by Apple and financials pushed further above 1600. The S & P has gained 13,4 % since the beginning of the year. Decent earnings together monetary easing and low interests rates have helped the stock markets to new records. As long as the world’s leading central banks are providing markets with liquidity the stock rally is most likely going to continue at least in the short term.
Asia is today focusing on Australia where markets are waiting for the Central Bank of Australia’s decision on interest rate. Analysts are split on whether the interest rate would be lowered by a quarter point to a record low of 2,75 %. A jump in stock prices are then predicted. Australian stocks fall 0,4 % prior to the central bank’s verdict. The Asian Pacific, MSCI-index, was as the Korean Kospi slightly down after big upward jumps on Monday.
In the currency market the Euro is on the defensive Euro/USD trading at 1.3077. The head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, stated yesterday that ECB is watching economic data and is ready to take further action if needed. The upcoming German elections in September make changes in the austerity policies unlikely in spite of Germany being under pressure from other EU-members.
While gold, USD 1465, is losing ground on continued outflows in holdings at the world’s largest gold backed exchange traded funds, SPDR Gold Trust, crude and copper are steady. Brent crude continues to trade above USD 105 a barrel.
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02 MAY 2013: ECB INTEREST CUT SEEMS LIKELY TODAY

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Growing doubts over the health of global economies pushed Asian stocks lower on Thursday after disappointing US economic data pushed Wall street down. Dow Jones industrial fell 0,92 % adding to doubts over the strength of the world’s biggest economy. Slow Chinese demand puts new question marks on China’s economic recovery. The European Central Bank (ECB) is meeting later today. ECB is expected to cut interest rates down to a low of 0,5 % in an effort to take the Euro zone out of recession.

 

The Asian Pacific MSCI-index fell 0,5 percent with Australian shares leading the decline. Miners dragged the AXJO index down 0,8 % on fears of lesser Chinese appetite for commodities. The Chinese PMI (Purchasing Managers index)fell in April, but the upward trend continues. It is, however, fragile and has lost momentum due to signs of pausing in the US economy. Market sentiments are split between growth prospect worries and support for sustained monetary stimulus.

 

There are also worries that a weaker US economic growth may prompt profit taking in Asian equities. Asia has strongly outperformed earlier this year, USD/JPY is trading steady at 97,24 unable to break through the psychological important 100 level. Some analysts expect that yen is going to continue to depreciate after a short breathier. A US trading at 110 yen towards a dollar is perceived.

 

The dollar has recovered from lows against a basket of six major currencies, DXY, but stayed at lowest levels since late February. The dollar weakness lifted the euro to a two month high of USD 1,3243 on Wednesday. It trades steady around 1.3178 in the opening sessions in Asia. Weak credit demand in the euro zone shall most likely lead to further contraction in the region. This points along with disappointing German PMI in April towards an interest rate cut when ERCB meets later today.

 

Growing unemployment in the Southern European periphery of Europe and slower growth in Germany, have led to a renewed debate on the austerity measures carried through by The ECB and EU-commission with Germany as the driving national engine. A leading critics of the austerity measures, the economic Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, says in a recent article that the austerities is far from any sound economics and purely dictated by leading bankers and politicians political prejudices. The results are catastrophic for the economy as well as human beings.

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29 APRIL 2013: GERMANY’S DAX ADDED 4.8% FOR THE LAST WEEK

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Leading stock indexes of Europe and the USA on Friday generally decreased – the British FTSE-100 decreased for -0,26%, the German DAX lost -0,23%, the French CAC lost -0,79%, the American Dow Jones added just +0,08%, S&P500 decreased for -0,20%, Nasdaq Composite lost -0,33%. Accordingly to the published statistics on Friday, growth rates of gross domestic product of the USA in the first quarter of the current year were accelerated, but were slightly worse than market expectations. At the same time the index of consumer confidence in the USA, counted by Michigan University, decreased, but at a size smaller, than was predicted.

As a whole for the past week the American share indexes added 1,1-1,9%, and European rose by 2,2%-4,8%. The German DAX which has added 4,8%, against improvement by the authorities of Germany of forecasts on growth rates of economy became the favorite of week within the European platforms. Bundesbank (the Central Bank of Germany) in the April’s review predicted growth restoration in economy of Germany in the second quarter against situation improvement on a labor market.
Trading session in Asian stock exchanges started without any uniform dynamics, Chinese and Japanese stock exchanges are closed today in connection with national holidays “Labor Day” and “Showa Day” respectively.

At the same time, Australian ASX where the raw materials companies are the major part of the index, remains to be in a green zone, despite the fact that on Friday evening there was quite sharp depreciation of metals. Mainly support is given by the banking sector. In particular the extracting companies Newcrest Mining and BHP Billiton lose around 0,5% of the capitalization while National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group banks add 1,3% and 0,8% respectively. Significantly worse than the market looks the Kingsgate Consolidated gold mining company, which is losing -14,5%, because of the statement of intention to decrease expenses in connection with a collapse of prices on precious metals.

Today the statement concerning prospects of development of economy of the Asian-Pacific Region was made by representatives of IMF, having reported about fall in forecast on gross domestic product growth from 5,9% to 5,7%. Also experts noted remaining probability of slowdown of the Chinese economy.

Prices of precious metals continue its positive correction after steep falls we have seen not so long time ago, gold is increasing for 1,07% and is traded on a level of 1469,16. Silver is up for 1,88% on a level of 24,20.

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24 April 2013: Apple lifts Asia after false tweet

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Apple climbed 4,9% to USD 425,95 in after closing trade yesterday night after reporting strong second quarter earnings. Apple also unveiled plans to double the amount of capital returned to shareholders after for a long time being heavily criticized for not sharing excessive profits. The Apple quarterly report made stock markets in Asia to rally. Wall Street recovered Tuesday after initial sharp declines sparked by an Associated Press tweet about explosions in the White House.

The false tweet by hackers of two explosions at the White House that injured US President Barack Obama, provoked a steep drop in stocks. The benchmark S&P index fell 16,6 points or close to one percent in 3 minutes. Index values of USD 136 billion were wiped out. Stocks quickly recovered minutes later. The tweet episode illustrates the advantages, but simultaneously the fall outs of an instantaneous pricing technology.

Asian shares advanced on Wednesday on the back of Apple and other solid US quarterly earnings. The Euro came under pressure by soft German data which underscored the fragile state of the euro zone economy. The Asia-Pacific MSCI-index climbed 0,8%. The Australian stock index gained 1.4% along with a firmer Aussie dollar. The positive US numbers also gave a lift to oil and other commodities. Copper is up after several day’s decline. Brent crude trades at USD 100,54 a barrel. Gold (USD 1426) and silver (USD 23,15) prices are up after falling back during yesterday’s trading.

The more positive tone in global equities markets seem to indicate that investors regard continued monetary easing by major central banks as justified. Monetary easing encourages investments in shares. But that also means that stock markets don’t reflect the real economic fundamentals. Equities continue to rally in spite of sluggish manufacturing surveys and weaker economic data from both the US and China, the two major engines in the global economy.

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10 April 2013: Dow closing at record high

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US-Stocks advanced on Tuesday with Dow Jones closing at a record high following a rally in cyclical shares and as the earnings season started to heat up. Asian stocks edged higher in Wednesday morning trade. Chinese trade data signaled a recovery in the world’s second largest economy as imports grew 14,1% year on year, much higher than expectations. The yen remained under pressure. USD/JPY stayed on 99; not able to break through the psychological 100 yen a dollar barrier.

The return to record levels indicates that investors again are using market declines as buying opportunities. The two winning groups, technology and energy, are closely tied to the pace of the economic growth. Microsoft jumped 3,6% as the top gainer on Dow Jones which advanced 0,41% to a record high on 14 673. Stocks were given a boost from the earnings session. ¾ of the 5% of the companies hitherto reporting results, have delivered higher than expectations.

In advance of the reports of earnings for the second quarter expectations have deliberately been plaid down. Alcoa, the aluminium producer, which traditionally is first out with its quarterly report, filed its adjusted results late on Monday, setting the tone for the earnings season. Alcoa’s results were slightly better than expectations. The Alcoa stock ended flat. First Solar Inc was the shining star with a surge of 45,5%. Solar’s results lifted the whole solar sector.

The dollar which has jumped 7% against yen since the Bank of Japan (BOJ) last Thursday stated that it will pump USD 1,4 trillion into the Japanese economy, was not able to break through the 100 level. This might easily happen during the week. Australian dollar continues to demonstrate strength after the surge in Chinese import. Euro/USD is steady in the interval between 1.3050 and 1.31.

Oil prices have recovered after the steep fall last week. NYMEX, New York crude, trades at 93,91 and Brent crude is at USD 106,40; up two dollars from the lows yesterday. Precious metals are up with gold trading at USD 1585 an ounce. 

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04 April 2013: ECB under fire for Cyprus handling

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Asian stocks fell as worse-than-estimated US economic data spurred concern about the pace of the US recovery as investors speculated whether the Bank of Japan (BOJ) would be able to meet forecast for monetary expansion and an inflation target of 2%. The MSCI Asia Pacific index slid 1% with carmakers as Toyota Motor declining on a stronger Yen. USD/JPY trades at 93.00. Copper prices, a strong indicator for economic growth, sank to its lowest level since August. Gold and silver prices plunged with Gold at USD 1546 an ounce. Oil prices fell two dollar a barrel.

The European Central bank (ECB) is meeting today in the aftermath of a botched attempt to rescue Cyprus. Bank shares have been tumbling across the Euro area and rattled confidence in policy maker’s ability to tame the sovereign debt crisis. With unemployment reaching a record high of 12,5%, doubts are growing about Mario Draghi’s forecast for a second-half economic recovery. The austerity measures prescribed from European bankers and politicians have so far dragged Europe into an even deeper recession.

The disconnect between official low lending rates and those businesses are actually charged, is also a growing concern for the ECB. More than four times as many small businesses in Spain were rejected loans in the second half of 2012 than in Germany or walked away from, too, expansive offers. The excess liquidity in the banking sector has halved over the last half year and lenders in the south European periphery might be in need of more central bank funding.

In front of today’s meeting critical questions are asked on the role ECB plaid in the Cyprus bailout. ECB initially welcomed and supported the Cypriot government’s plan to confiscate funds on all banking accounts including those below Euro 100 000. This was rejected by the Cypriot Parliament. A revised agreement was negotiated a week later under the threat of ECB cutting emergency funding to Cypriot banks. Additionally; capital controls were for the first time in the EU history introduced to avoid capital flight. Free movement of capital is one of the four basic freedoms EU cooperation is built upon.

The confiscation of private accounts and introduction of capital control have damaged investor confidence and banks reputation across the Euro zone. Between March 15 and 27 the Stoxx Europe 600 Bank index dropped 6,8%. The cost of insuring against default on European bank bonds have surged 41% in the same period. Partially responsible for a flawed bailout plan being presented to Parliament, ECB exacerbated markets reactions to the bailout and simultaneously harmed the trust in Europe’s crisis fighting abilities.

Analysts stress that even if the error originated in Cyprus, Euro Finance ministers and ECB’s big miscalculation were to support a flawed plan. This resulted in increased financial stress and uncertainties in global markets. The trust in the Euro was undermined. Whether Mario Draghi and the ECB today would be able to present the right damage limiting response, is an open question.

Three Supreme Court judges appointed by President Nicos Anastasiades will today start investigations into a decade of financial profligacy which brought Cyprus to its knees. They have also a mandate to look into the President’s own affairs after accusations of tipoffs that presumably saved close family for big amounts when of 21 million euros were transferred abroad days before the bailout plan was announced. 

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