12 JUNE 2013: USD/JPY REBOUNDS AFTER STEEP FALL

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The Dollar steadied against the Yen on Wednesday, suffering its biggest drop in three years yesterday. USD/JPY trades at 96.44, sinking as low as 95.60 in the previous session. The 2.7 % fall marked the biggest one-day drop in the USD/JPY currency since May 2010. The Dollar continued to slip against the Euro at 1.3307. The Dollar index DXY steadied after slumping to a four-month low of 81.034. The weakened Australian Dollar gained 0.4% and trades 0.9469 to a USD.

Bank of Japan (BOJ) disappointed investors hoping for an extension in the maximum duration of its fixed-rate loans, similar to the European Central Bank (ECB) long term financing operation. Such extension would have been aimed at quelling the volatility in the bond market. The market expected such a move. When that did not happen, the Yen sellers had to liquidate short positions. Yen buying was strengthened by exporters shrinking purchases of the Dollar.

The volatility and tumult in the Japanese bond market have raised worries that it could undercut the Abe government and BOJ’s efforts of monetary easing. USD/JPY had, until the recent turnaround, fallen continuously from 80 to 103.65 Yen to a Dollar. The weaker Yen gave Japanese export a welcomed boost, but most of this advantage has been eaten by the stronger Yen experienced in June.

The US and European stock markets tumbled yesterday on nervousness over FED’s monetary easing exit strategy. Dow Jones and Nasdaq fell from 0.76 to 1.06 %. At the General Assembly of Facebook, CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, faced a barrage of questions about the stock price. Facebook’s shares have fallen 37% since its introduction. In Japan, the Nikkei index fell below 13.000 as the strong Yen dragged exporters down.

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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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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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12 April 2013: Wall Street posts new record highs

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Asian shares retreated marginally Friday morning after recent gains. The Asia-Pacific, MSCI-index fell 0,3% due especially to the tense situation in the Korean peninsula. Investor’s confidence was underpinned by new record highs on Wall Street. Shares rose for the fourth day. A drop last week in the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, gave markets a new boost. A 14% plunge in personal computer sales in first quarter, the sharpest drop in two years, could not spoil the good sentiment. USD/JPY continues to flirt with the 100 yen mark.

The Nikkei index helped by Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) efforts to fight deflation dropped 0,8% on profit taking. The Nikkei is up 10% over the last week and trades at its highest level since July 2008. The dollar has gained 6% towards the yen the last week and hit a 99,95 yen to dollar on Thursday, a level not seen in four years. Euro/Yen climbed to 131,10 and reached the highest level seen since 2010. Aussie dollar also soared towards the yen. USD/JPY fell back to 99,50 unable to break through the 100 mark.

In Europe the EU- Commission’s bleak forecast on the economic development inside the Euro zone did not affect the strength of the Euro. Euro/USD is steady around 1,31 – 1.3150. Slovenia with its struggling banking sector, was singled out as a candidate to be next in line for a bail-out after Cyprus. But the banking sectors Italy, Spain and also France remain in the danger zone. The guru investor, George Sorros, stated earlier in the week that he saw Eurobonds as the solution to Europe’s troubled economies and saw a possible German Euro exit as a viable alternative.

President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to solve the US budget crisis by trimming Social Security and other safety-net benefits have is off to a cold response. Republicans, Democrats and even the White House have distanced themselves from the proposal. The reactions illustrate the difficulty of reaching a bargain to reduce spending and tame the deficit. The Republicans said that the President’s offer did not go far enough to cut spending.

In Cyprus the Central Bank has been selling part of its gold reserves to raise around 400 million Euro to help finance part of its bailout, the European Commission announced on Wednesday. Cyprus has totally a reserve of 13,9 tons. 10,35 tons are set to be sold. The transaction had a negative impact on gold prices which following the Cypriot sales fell USD 20 dollar an ounce on Wednesday. The Cyprus Central Bank is selling gold at a time when other central banks are building up their gold reserves as security against monetary easing and big volatility in the currency markets. 

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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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09 April 2013: Aggressive bond buying sinks JPY

ImageUSD/ JPY dropped for the third straight day as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) yesterday started  its aggressive monetary easing program. Following the strategy of the US Federal Reserve (FED), BOJ is buying Japanese bonds for trillion in an effort to stimulate economic growth.  The Japanese government intends to get out of the vicious inflation  circle and  has set a target for 2 % inflation. The bond buying has boosted the Japanese stock market. US stocks also gained yesterday ahead of second quarter earnings session which is expected to show moderate growth.

 USD rallied to its highest level towards JPY seen since 2009, trading at 99,50 yen as BOJ concluded its first bond purchases since announcing the new monetary easing last week. Wall Street slipped in early trading as caution ahead of the quarterly season dominated the sentiment. Stocks turned around and ended in positive territory.  US stocks have rallied strongly over the last months with major indexes hitting record highs. Earnings forecast are predicting a 1,6 % rise in earnings over the last year.

 The Nikkei index in Tokyo jumped 3.1 % and saw its highest level since 2008 as BOJ shall pump  an equivalent to USD 1,4 trillion into bonds over the next two years. These measures  have created a bonanza in the stock and real estate markets. Traders are waiting for a break through of the psychological  100 yen level a dollar.  US 10 years treasury bills fell sharply last week in response to the aggressive Japanese measures.

 Oil prices hitting a 8 month low on Friday, have recovered.  Brent crude is trading at USD 105,55 a barrel, up one dollar from the beginning of the week. Euro/USD has made a strong come back from its low level on 1.2760 last week in the aftermath of the turbulence in Cyprus and the press conference of the European Central Bank (ECB).  Euro/USD is  trading at 1.3050.  British pound, GBP, and other major currencies have also gained ground against dollar. Precious metals led by gold,  USD 1575 an ounce, is also trading higher.

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15 March 2013: Stock market growth smile on US dollar

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 The Dow Jones Industrial rose for a 10th straight day in a stock rally not seen since 1996, and ended up 0,6 % at 14 539. This followed a strong session in Europe.  In Asia stocks rose again this morning after two loss making sessions. The rally was spurred by new US- labour market data showing a fall in the weekly numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits. The data reflects  that the American economy is steadily improving.  A raft of recent data from retail sales and manufacturing to employment and housing have shown that the US  economy is gathering steam.

In contradiction to former historical stock rallies where the green buck was used as some kind of a life jacket, the USD has this time benefited greatly on the stock market’s surge to new highs and improved economic data.  Against a basket of currency, DXY, the dollar has reached a seven month high. Since January USD/JPY has jumped from 86,67 to over 96. Pound Sterling, GBP, has fallen from 1.62 to a bottom of  1.4832 earlier this week. The moves suggest that the dollar has entered a multi-year bull cycle where the dollar has outperformed nine of the major G-10 currencies.

Political uncertainty in Italy has re-ignited  fear about the  euro zone’s debt crisis and put new pressure on the Euro.  Weak economic growth and  prospects of aggressive monetary easing in Japan and Britain have driven the yen and GBP to multi-year lows.  Spending cuts in Washington could for sure damper US economic growth and the FED has further pledged to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future.   But capital flows continue to rotate in the favour of US-assets and  strengthen both the US economy and the dollar.

The dollar strength against JPY and Euro  took a little breather  on Friday. USD/JPY trades at 96,03 down from the peak of 96,71 on Tuesday. If the Bank of Japan (BOJ) follows up on its  declared strong monetary easing policies, USD/JPY is likely to trade in a future range between 95 – 105. If BOJ disappoints the trading range is expected to be 86 – 96. Euro/USD was in the short term  strengthened by a positive Spanish bond auction on Thursday. It  trades at 1.3010. Pound sterling and Australian dollar were yesterday’s winners. The Aussie added another 0,8 % after another  one percentage jump on good employment numbers on Wednesday.

British pound surged yesterday as investors scrambled to cover short positions made on expectations of more quantitative easing by the Bank of England. The Bank’s Governor stated that GBP according to his opinion is properly valued and not seeking further depreciation.  GBP was helped by rumours that Qatar is planning to invest billions of GBP into British infrastructure projects. The GBP yesterday’s one % gain is the biggest seen in seven months.

These short term gains are nevertheless not expected to  have any major medium or long term  impact.  The long medium and long term outlook point towards  a stronger USD both in relation to Euro, JPY, GBP and most other currencies. These forecasts for Euro/USD point to  a new test on former bottom levels 1.19 – 1.20. It is also predicted that GBP/USD can drop as low as 1.35.  The corridor range 95 – 105 is the most likely medium term scenario for USD/JPY.

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04 March 2013: Asia tumbles on China worry

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Asian  shares slipped on  Monday as China tightened its grip on the property sector. Beijing increased Friday  required down payments and loan rates for buyers for second homes in cities where prices have been quickly  increasing  in an effort to contain housing costs. This had immediately a negative effect on the Chinese markets and led to a tumble in Asia. The MSCI-index for ASIA-Pacific shares are 1,3 % down after Shanghai shares slipped 2,3 %.

 Slower growth in  Chinese increasingly important services sector had also an impact. The growth in this sector was slower than in five months, reinforcing the view that the Chinese recovery remains modest. The slower Chinese growth had an immediate effect on Australia where the AXJO index fell 1.2 %. Japan was the only positive spot.  The Nikkei 225rose 0,6 % as the sole gainer in the region. Export companies were boosted by a weaker yen and surprisingly strong US manufacturing and consumer sentiment.

 The new Governor of Bank of Japan (BOJ) stated that BOJ is ready to take whatever measures necessary to get Japan out of the vicious deflation circle. USD/JPY trades at 93,33. In spite of its budget problems USD is trading on a six months high against a basket of currencies. Currency speculators have over the last week increased their bets in favour of the US dollar.

 Evidence of Europe’s problem with Spain at risk needing a state bailout is weighing in on the Euro.  Data presented on Friday showed that Germany and Ireland are the only Euro zone members with factory output growth last month. Joblessness within the Euro zone rose to an all-time high. The Euro steadied at 1.3015 after slipping to a low of 1.2966 on Friday, the lowest level seen in 3 months.

 Concerns about the negative impact from the USA spending cuts also weighed in on US crude which is down to USD 90.59 a barrel. Brent is trading at 110,50. Gold and silver prices are hurt by the strong dollar.

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