26 JUNE 2013: US DATA LIFTS STOCKS

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Strong manufacturing and housing data lifted the US equity markets after several losing sessions following the meeting in the Federal Reserve (FED) and Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statement last Wednesday. Global markets have since been in turmoil on the prospect of a tapering in the USD 85 billion monthly bond buying program, which have fed stocks with liquidity and created what many see as an artificial rally. Uncertainty as to whether monetary easing will continue, has in two weeks wiped out most of these gains.

The economic data presented yesterday gave strong arguments to those arguing that the US economy is back on the right track and the 6.5% unemployment target set by FED, is within reach. Realizing the heavy waves last week’s statement has created, FED representatives were, on Wednesday, eagerly playing down the likelihood for a quick end to monetary easing, stressing the many uncertainties and FED’s conditions for a termination.

These efforts were, to a certain degree, undermined by better than seven years housing figures. Greater demands for capital goods such as cars and aircrafts point in the same direction. The positive numbers had Dow Jones turn sharply up after four dismal losing sessions. Dow ended 0.65 % up at 14 754, still far from the benchmark 15 000. Nasdaq also gained ground and added 0.5 %. The European markets ended in positive territory after big losses since last week.

The Dollar is the big winner of the FED statement. It gained new ground after the housing data was published, but fell somewhat back. EUR/USD which started on a good note on 1.3235 dipped at a point below the resistance level on 1.3172 which represents the last 200 days moving average. A fall below that level will indicate that the EURO is in bullish territory. EURO fell as deep as 1.3162, but has since recovered well above 1301,72 to 1.3091.

The USD/JPY followed a similar trading pattern and stands 97.90. Australian Dollar rebounded strongly while the Chinese Central Bank’s tighter credit conditions towards private lenders conducting a freewheeling policy, sent new shivers through the Chinese stock markets. The losses were, at one point, 5.5 %, but turned back to a relatively modest 0,2 %. While the US economy seems to improve fundamentally, there are big question marks around the world’s second biggest economy . Oil and commodity prices have risen on the back of the new positive data in US.

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20 JUNE 2013: FED STRENGTHENS USD WHILE STOCKS PLUNGE

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The US Federal Reserve (FED) will start to taper its monetary easing program in the second half of 2013 ,and terminate the bond buying completely in the first half of 2014. That was Chairman Ben Bernanke’s message after FED’s meeting yesterday. A termination depends, however, on continued growth, controlled inflation and achievement of FED’s 6.5 % unemployment target. The US economy is moderately growing, but FED see increased downturn risks due to budget cuts, which have weakened growth. The low interest rate policies will continue.

Markets reacted by sending stocks down. Dow Jones Industrial fell 1.35 %. Nasdaq lost 1.12 %. The Asian indexes plunged on the news. The bond buying program has been the main driver behind this year’s stock rally. A termination invites uncertainty. The Asian-Pacific MSCI-index fell more than 3 %. The Japanese Nikkei was equally hard hit as were Australia, New Zealand and other Asian markets. The downturn in equity markets is most probably going to continue in Europe today.

FED’s conclusion and Bernanke’s comments don’t come as a big surprise. Over the last few weeks there has been continuous speculation as to when tapering would start. FED seems to be convinced that the US economy is on the right track, but keeps the door open for continued stimulus policies in the worst case scenario. This “exit” from monetary easing shall hardly calm nervous markets which usually overreact to news regarded as negative.

FED’s decision has strengthened the Dollar in relation to all currencies. EUR/USD has fallen from the 1.34 level to 1.326. Yen has also lost ground and trades at 96.28 Yen to a Dollar.GBP/USD, which lately has traded at around 1.57, plunged to 1.5448. The USD/AUD continues to fall, 0.9250, on new data confirming a slower Chinese growth. Oil prices are down. Brent crude trades at USD 104.69 a barrel, down one-and-a-half Dollars. Gold and commodity prices continue to lose ground.

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19 JUNE 2013: MARKETS WAIT FOR BERNANKE

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Stocks led by General Electric grew higher on Wall Street yesterday, as markets eagerly wait for US Federal Reserve’s , FED, policy statement to be published later today. Both Dow Jones Industrial and the technology heavy Nasdaq added 0.91 and 0.87 % respectively on expectations that FED, for now, will maintain its aggressive bond buying program, which over the last half year has boosted stocks. Markets are gambling on continued monetary easing in spite of recent data pointing to an improvement in the US-economy.

FED Chairman Ben Bernanke recently stated that the bond buying would be wound down when the economy has proven stronger. FED has put a 6.5 % unemployment rate and an inflation rate below 2.5 % as benchmark targets. An improving US economy seems, at present, capable of growing without monetary easing, but FED has not yet decided on the final exit strategy. It is expected that a tapering of the bond buying will begin in September/October.

Japanese stocks followed the positive lead from New York, outperforming the rest of Asia. Nikkei rose 1.1 %, helped by a softer Yen. USD/JPY traded at 95.28 down from the 94.50 level seen over the last couple of days. The Asian Pacific MSCI-index eased 0.3 % led by a 1.3 % fall in mainland Chinese stocks. Hong Kong and South Koreas were also lower. The MSCI index has lost 8 % since May 22nd, when Bernanke indicated to Congress that a decision to wind down bond buying would come in the next few meetings.

The question for many investors is whether Bernanke will succeed in convincing markets that any tapering is conditional on incoming data opposed to the foregone conclusion: tapering is going to come regardless. The uncertainty has convinced most currency and equity investors to retreat to the sidelines. The Dollar has moved marginally over the last day. EUR/USD trades at 1.3390 after reaching close to a four-month peak at 1.3416 yesterday. Commodities, oil and gold are trading at steady levels.

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18 JUNE 2013: ASIAN SHARES SLIDE BEFORE FED MEETING

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After a strong session in New York on Monday where Dow Jones, S&P, and Nasdaq all gained, Asian shares slide, as investors are nervously waiting news from the US Federal Reserve meeting and Bernanke’s news conference on Wednesday. The Japanese Nikkei and the Asian Pacific MSCI-indexes fell as did Australian shares which lost 0.9 %. The currencies are relatively steady with the EUR/USD at 1.3354 and USD/JPY at 94.84.

Oil prices continue to trade higher due to tension in the Middle East. Brent crude stands at USD 105.57 a barrel. The G-8 meeting amongst the world’s strongest developed economies, started their meeting in Northern Ireland yesterday, seeing Russia increasingly isolated in their support to the Assad-regime in Syria. US and European leaders simultaneously launched talks on the world’s most ambitious free trade agreements.

Markets are looking for the FED to clarify its outlook on its massive stimulus program when the US central bank concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. FEDs aggressive bond-buying program, along with other central banks accommodating monetary policies to promote growth, have provided liquidity which have been invested into higher risk assets as shares. Even modest tapering in monetary policies might, therefore, have had direct and unforeseen impact on the stock rally seen the last half-year.

Uncertainty over FEDs thinking has recently weighed in on the Dollar which has plunged to a four-month low towards a basket of currencies. The Dollar’s fall against the Yen has primarily been linked to speculators and investors cutting down on their Yen short positions after the Bank of Japan last week did nothing to quell a highly volatile domestic bond market. The fall in the Yen was sparked by a sell-off in Nikkei shares which have fallen 20 % from their peak at the end of May.

It is expected that FED, after its Wednesday meeting, will stress its commitment to continued stimulus and that any tapering will not signal lightening liquidity. At the G-8 meeting the Euro zone came under pressure to press on with a banking union. Japan was urged to follow up on central bank stimulus with structural reforms to tackle its budget deficits.

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06 JUNE 2013: YEN JUMPS AS WALL STREET FALLS

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The Yen rose sharply early Thursday. USD/JPY dropped to 99.00, up more than one percent since yesterday. Commodity currencies are under strong pressure with the Australian Dollar at a 19-month low. The currency volatility follows a steep fall in US stocks Wednesday extending the previous days sell-off. Dow Jones dipped under 15.000 due to concerns that the US Federal Reserve, FED, may scale down its bond-buying stimulus when the economy is still sluggish.

The sell-off on Wall Street was broadly based with four decliners to one advancing stock. The selling might suggest that the seven-month stock rally is coming to an end. The S&P 500 has fallen 3.6 percent since its peak on May the 21st, one day before Ben Bernanke indicated that FED might taper its stimulus if economic data shows traction. The jobless numbers and unemployment statistics to be presented tomorrow are therefore crucial.

Both Dow Jones and Nasdaq registered their biggest percentage drops in six weeks. Most Asian markets suffered similar falls and slipped to fresh lows. Economic data has recently been mixed. Investors fear that FED will reduce their monetary easing before the economy is back on track, in spite of clear FED statements that the stimulus will continue until unemployment is reduced to 6.5 %. A report yesterday showed that private employers created far less jobs in May than the 160,000 predicted. The figures are a strong argument against changes.

The long term bullish outlook on the USD/JPY remains. Analysts don’t predict steeper falls from here and still see 120 as likely in 6 – 12 months. EUR/USD is resilient, reaching 1.3118 yesterday before falling back to 1.3095. The stronger Euro comes ahead of ECBs policy meeting. ECB will probably consider whether it is necessary to take fresh action in order to secure the expected recovery of the euro zone in the second half of 2013.

 

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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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31 MAY 2013: NEW RALLY IN CURRENCY MARKET – EURO PREVAILS OVER DOLLAR

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All conditions were created for a rally of EUR/USD: reports from the Eurozone were better than forecast, and at the same time for the USA – worse than predicted. The result didn’t keep itself waiting for long, the pair could go above the strong resistance level at 1.30, although it reached a maximum on 1.3061 and finished the trading session around 1.3040. It is quite interesting actually, that the data from the USA were not as dire as predicted, and the Eurozone in general was not presenting something really satisfying or exceptional. The conclusion comes by itself – the overbought USD gives power to the Euro.

So, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the USA in 1 quarter was reconsidered to fall from 2,5% to 2,4%, and the number of the unemployed who have submitted an application for receiving a grant, grew to 354 thousand. It is absolutely not enough to frighten Bernanke, but it is quite enough to provoke investors to close long positions on USD on tops. This also gave support to the British Pound and GBP/USD from the level of opening at 1.5129 pair reached a maximum of 1.5219, having finished the trading session around 1.52.

After disappointments with the labor market in Germany, today it is worth looking at the data on retails in the country. Usually there is direct correlation: there is no income – there are no expenses, however analysts predict the indicator’s growth, so tension in the market increases. If sales volumes will really increase, it will give additional support for further strengthening of EUR/USD to the next resistance levels on 1.3070 and 1.3110.

In relation to Japan today, it is worth acknowledging the statement of IMF (International Monetary Fund), in which it completely supported the current monetary policy of the country, and stated extensive prospects of its further realization. Furthermore, the problem with growth of profitability of state bonds is considered to be completely controllable. Asian stock markets started the day positively, however, by this time, buyers confidence had already evaporated. Japanese Nikkei slightly restores yesterday’s losses, while the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng again looks worse than its”colleagues”.

Prices for precious metals are stable, with Gold on 1417.08$ and Silver on 22.74$. Prices for oil are slightly down, with Brent on 102.07$ per barrel and WTI on 93.47$. Today the next meeting of representatives of member countries of OPEC becomes a key event of the day in the oil market. Questions on the current quotas of production, and also the increase in production of oil in the USA will be discussed. America now produces record volumes of oil, thereby reducing the dependence from former exporters.
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27 MAY 2013: INVESTORS LOSE OUT DUE TO BAD TIMING

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Stocks took a breather last week after signs of cooling in China, and what some investors saw as a possible change in FED policies. The Nikkei, which has soared since last November on hopes of economic revival, was the hardest hit with Thursday’s 7,32 % fall. Other Asian and European markets dropped as well, but not so dramatically, raising questions whether the bull market has come to an end.

Some investors blame FED-chairman, Ben Bernanke for the turmoil. Others point to a seeming difference between Bernanke and the board’s published minutes for late April. Investors might, however, blame themselves for unrealistic expectations and their gamble on a change in FED’s policies.

Investors have different motives in their bet for a change. Some are appalled by FED’s money printing and that there is no predicted hyperinflation. Others hoped that Bernanke’s monetary experiments would be abandoned. Such abandonment would have meant that President Obama’s entire economic policy had failed. The third and biggest group of Wall Street investors simply blame themselves for missing out on the stock rally. The general indexes have beaten the hedge funds three times since January.

No wonder many of them are frustrated. Fat bonuses this year might hang on their own wishful thinking for a quick change. Change depends, however, on objective analysis, and a correct reading of Bernanke’s careful wording. In his testimony last week, Bernanke repeated word for word what he stated since last September.

FED will continue to buy 85 billion of bonds monthly till the 6,5 % target for unemployment and a steady growth is established. The US economy is not quite there yet. It might well take another 8 – 12 months. The grunting from dissatisfied FED board members is not something new.Their hopes for a change in policies have been reflected in the last eight FED minutes.

There will, of course, be a change. But the timing will be decided by economic data and FED’s consideration. Investors lost billions of dollars last week on a wrong bet on the timing for a change. By now, they have hopefully swallowed their anger and are ready to meet markets which are hopefully back on track, ready for rallies and continued new highs.
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24 MAY 2013: SERIOUS MELTDOWN IN GLOBAL EQUITIES

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Dubious signals from the US Federal Reserve, FED, on continued monetary easing, and disappointing Chinese PMI numbers (a barometer on business leaders optimism), led to a serious meltdown in global equity markets yesterday. The Japanese Nikkei plunged 7,32 % with more modest losses in Europe, where London and Frankfurt indexes lost 2 %.

While FED’s Ben Bernanke testimony to Congress, warned against a premature end to the bond buying program, FED’s April minutes pointed to a split between those who want a quick termination of the program and those siding with Bernanke. Monetary easing has been the driving force behind the last months steep increases in equities.

It is natural to see the steep plunge in Japan as a result of a doubling in stock prices over the last half year and the latest aggressive stimulus policies. Globally, there have been increased worries among investors as to whether equity markets, running ahead of fundamentals, are creating a dangerous bubble. With news of an end to monetary easing and problems in China this created risk aversion and a sell off.

The fall in the US-indexes were modest following the onslaught in other markets. The last published jobless claims at 340,000, are 5000 fewer than expected. There is still a long shot to the 6,5 % unemployment target set by FED, but fewer jobless claims would give the proponents of an early end to the bond buying programs new arguments.

Oil prices which have kept surprisingly steady over the last month, decreased more than two dollars a barrel.

EUR/USD got support from higher than expected PMI indexes. As a result, EUR/USD from level of opening – 1,2855 was rolled away to a maximum of 1,2956 and this morning we can see pair traded on a level of 1.2932. GBP/USD behaved more frostily against volatility of both currency pairs and share indexes. Having reached quite strong support on 1,50 the previous trading day, pair showed moderate correction. The most important question of today is- whether the Yen finished it’s decline? Taking into consideration all the factors, pair can quite roll down to the area of 100.00.
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23 MAY 2013: BERNANKE TAKES USD TO NEW HIGHS

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The head of the federal Reserve, FED, Ben Bernanke’s statement to Congress caused markets to fluctuate wildly yesterday. Bernanke’s comments initially had a positive impact on the stock markets when he stated that it would have unpredictable consequences for the US economy if FED’s bond buying program was terminated within the near future.

The bond buying program has boosted the US and global stock markets, but has so far failed to create new employment. FED has earlier stated that the bond buying of USD 800 billion collar will end when the unemployment has reached 6,5 %. It now stands at 7,6 %. This statement was initially seen by markets as a continuation of the bond buying that has boosted global equity markets.

At the same time Bernanke indicated that the termination of the bond buying might be on the immediate cards.. These comments were supported by the minutes from the April/May FED board meeting opening for a termination of the bond buying within the near future. This resulted in a steep fall in US stock indexes. Dow Jones fell from 16 464 down to 15 307 with equal immediate drops in S&P and Nasdaq.

The USD jumped to 103,73 Yen a Dollar. The DXY, a basket of currencies against USD, raised to a record high of 84,27, Euro/USD jumped to 1.2854 as Swiss Franc weakened both towards Dollar and Euro. The Australian dollar trades at its lowest level in a year. Precious metals have fluctuated wildly through the New York session with gold trading between USD 1369 and 1416. Silver reached USD 23,20 to fall back to 22,27. Oil prices remain steady.

Bernanke’s statement boosted global stock markets. Dow Jones immediately increased to a record high of 15 464 with equal jumps in European equities.

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