17 JUNE 2013: DOLLAR LOSES MOMENTUM

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The Japanese Yen held near a two-month high against the Dollar and the Euro in early Asian trade Monday, amid market hysteria and confusion over when and how the US Federal Reserve (FED) will begin to scale down its massive stimulus program. USD/JPY opened at the same level as it ended in New York on Friday, where the Dollar bought 94.23 Yen. Since the opening, Yen has weakened to 94.77. EUR/USD trades steady at 1.3322 as French President Holland’s Socialist party asks for a weaker Euro.

The Dollar lost momentum during volatile sessions last week, which saw sharp moves in the Yen and emerging market currencies. Stronger retail sales and lower weekly jobless claims released last Thursday, helped the green back rise from months of lows. Negative consumer confidence figures published on Friday effected, however, USD negatively. The Dollar index, weighed against a basket of currencies, are at a four month low. Both Euro and GBP are at their strongest level against the Dollar since February.

Oil prices rallied to a two month high after Washington’s announcement that it would provide arms to Syrian rebel groups. New York Crude, NYMEX, trades at USD 97.63 a barrel and Brent is above 105. The Syrian crisis going to be at the top of the agenda when the G-8 meets today. The Syrian civil war is threatening the stability in neighboring Countries such as Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey, and challenges Israel’s security as well. The conflict threatens to develop into a regional Russia/US proxy war also directly involving Iran.

In a price analysis Barclay’s bank is forecasting crude oil prices to retrace to USD 111 a barrel, taking supply shortfalls as well as geopolitical tensions into consideration. The Bank estimates supply shortfalls from OPEC (Organization of Oil Producing Countries) to be 2 million barrels a day or equal to Germany’s oil imports. Libyan oil output has fallen below 1m barrels a day due to protests at oil fields and terminals. Nigeria’s output has fallen due to theft-related damage to pipelines.

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14 JUNE 2013: ROBUST US-DATA TURNS MARKETS UP

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Robust US retail sales and a drop in the weekly jobless benefits claims had a positive impact on global stock markets yesterday and this morning. Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.9 % recovering some of the sharp losses the last two weeks. This followed a strong session in New York. Dow Jones passed the 15 000 mark again, adding 1.21 %. The technology heavy Nasdaq index gained 1.32 %. The Asian Pacific MSCI-index rose 1.4 %. Also Chinese shares recovered.

Volatility is still high in the currency markets. Better than expected economic data calmed global markets,after the last few days bruising sell off. Investors remained, however, nervous ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve, FED, policy meeting on June the 18th-19th. The Dollar lost at one point more than 1% from early gains against the Yen, and stands at a four-month low against a basket of major currencies, DXY. USD/JPY is hovering below 95 at 94.92 Yen to a Dollar. Euro/USD is at 1.3349.

The positive data yesterday appeared to have brought some temporary relief to markets rocked by speculation on whether FED is going to taper its monetary easing. The strong rally in global equity markets over the last half year, has been driven by FED’s bond buying scheme. There is an open question as to how the stock markets would be affected by a discontinuation in monetary easing, which other central banks have also copied. Currencies are most likely going to continue to be volatile until stability returns to equities.

Yen short and Dollar long positions have been built up to excessive levels over the last few weeks, and have contributed to the volatility in USD/JPY. Selling of the Yen was overdone and it seems that the latest market turbulence might have filtered out much of that excess. USD/JPY at 95 seems to be reasonable for now. The British Pound Sterling, GBP, is gaining ground against the USD, trading above 1.57. Oil prices are up on US- growth expectations triggered by the latest data. US crude futures stand at 96.70 and Brent trades at USD 104.73 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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03 JUNE 2013: ASIA FALLS ON PROFIT-TAKING

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Asian shares fall on profit taking Monday after recent highs. Uncertainty over how much longer the current US stimulus will continue, still dominates the agenda at the start of a new trading week.China’s last PMI figures (Purchasing Manager’s Index) published during the weekend, creates concern in light of softening domestic and external demands. More US-data this week might give a clue as to growth and demand prospects and will hopefully show some direction in regards to how long the monetary easing will last.

The dollar index rose last week on investors bets that improved data on the US economy would encourage the Federal Reserve (FED) to reduce monetary stimulus, which have boosted investments into riskier assets as emerging market currencies. The South African Rand, Mexican Peso and Hungarian Forint were hardest hit against the dollar in a volatile week in the currency market that saw investors reduce their exposure to risk-related assets.

The New Zealand Dollar fell more than any other developed currency after their Reserve Bank Governor stated that the Kiwi dollar still remained overvalued. Further currency interventions were thus needed to weaken the Kiwi.

The Euro/USD gained substantially last Thursday, but fell back due to the unemployment figures published on Friday. The unemployment rate in the Eurozone hit a fresh record high at 12.2 percent in April. Youth unemployment is reaching alarming levels. Euro/USD trades at 1.3013 in the morning. The President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Maro Draghi, said that the Eurozone economy is on track for a recovery driven by ECBs loose monetary policy, and outside demand.

Japanese Yen is up against USD at 00.48 amid a bout of profit-taking by investors last week. GBP is steady at 1.5217. Oil prices are under pressure, but Brent crude is still trading above USD 100 a barrel. Gold prices are slightly up at USD 1395.

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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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30 MAY 2013: JAPANESE NIKKEI INDEX IS AGAIN AN OUTSIDER

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After couple of days of moderate growth, the decrease at the Asian stock markets was resumed. Support to sellers is given by the Yen growth, though in the debt market – profitability of 10 year bonds, was a little far away from maximum levels previously reached. The reason for this, could be the speech from the chairman of the Central Bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, who declared intention to decrease volatility in the debt market, and also decrease interest rates by means of a monetary easing program in the long-term prospective. As a result, Japanese Nikkei lost -5.14% and USD/JPY decreased to 100.72 this morning.

The Eurozone prepared an unpleasant surprise yesterday- data on the labor market which showed growth of the number of the unemployed by 21 thousand against the expected 4 thousand. However, it couldn’t roll EUR/USD, which, towards the end of the day,returned to the day’s maximum levels, having reached 1,2977 and having rolled away to 1,2940 by the close.

There are some statistics which could influence further development of the EUR/USD pair. We are not expecting any changes of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the USA, but the number of the unemployed who have submitted applications for receiving a grant, is interesting, especially in the light of Rosengren’s statements yesterday from FRS, in which he noted that it is possible to reduce the volume of the buying up of bonds, if the indicators from the labor market and on the economy, will, in general, be stable for few more months. The lower the unemployment figures will be,the higher chances EUR/USD will have to return to testing of support on 1,2850.

Prices of oil following the results of the last trading session showed negative dynamics. Besides a noticeable decrease in the developed stock markets, deterioration of forecasts on the development of the economy of the two largest consumers of raw materials – the USA and the People’s Republic of China, became one of negative factors. Also, according to yesterday’s data from the American institute of oil (API) stocks of oil increased by 4,4 million barrels. As for gasoline, the volume of stocks grew by 1,94 million barrels. Today, price for Brent is 102,36$ and price for WTI is 92.87$.

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09 MAY 2013: STOCKS RALLY AS MAJOR CURRENCIES LOSE DIRECTION

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Global equity markets continue to rally as major currencies have lost a clear direction. Encouraging global data and Wall Street’s extended record rally, took Asian shares to a new two-year peak Thursday morning. Australia presented strong unemployment numbers. While 50 100 new jobs were added in April, the South Korean central bank made a surprise 0,5% interest cut lowering the interest rate to 2,5%. These steps further cemented the positive mood in global markets.

Lower interest rates and central banks increased money printing have created spare liquidity which moves into stocks. The Japanese monetary easing brought the Nikkei index within striking distance of a five-years highs outperforming its global peers. Stocks remain the favored asset class among investors as monetary easing depresses return on bonds. Unclear prospects regarding the world economic growth weigh negatively on commodity prices. Commodities trade without any clear direction with precious metals temporarily falling out of favor with investors.

In contrast to the clear uptrend in global equities major currencies have lost direction. This is the case with Japanese yen, JPY, which depreciated continuously since November last year and depreciated and lost 20 – 25% against most currencies. The last weeks USD/JPY has traded in the interval between 97 – 99 yen a dollar unable to make a major breakthrough and jump above the psychological 100 level.

Investors which made huge profits betting on big cash currency positions earlier this year go into equities which regardless of economic fundamental outlooks are strongly buoyed by monetary easing. As long as central banks keep their accommodative stance the uptrend in stocks would continue. Stocks were also helped by the upbeat US unemployment figures last Friday, Chinese trading data and more promising prospects for the German industry.

In spite of the economic outlook for the Euro zone continues to be dismal, the Euro remains resilient. Euro/USD trades at 1.3160. The economic problems in Europe are indeed serious, but traders have recently burnt their fingers on going short on Euro and stay away. The Euro seems to have discounted eventual bad news, and the balance of payment and real interest rates are no lower than anywhere else. There is no clear conviction among traders as to the timing of Euro weakness. In this financial climate oil prices are keeping up steady. Brent is hovering around USD 104 a barrel. Gold price which fell to USD 1449 on Tuesday, has picked up and trades at 1474.

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30 APRIL 2013: S&P500 INDEX AGAIN APPROACHED ABSOLUTE MAXIMA

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In the first day of the week the index of the wide market S&P500 closely approached recently established historical maxima and now has chance to continue an ascension on new heights. Following the results of the yesterday’s trading session the S&P500 index increased by 0,72%. Quotations stopped at the level of 1593,61 points. To an absolute record there was not enough one point only. As the closest level of resistance which can be reached within an ascending trend, we will allocate a level of 1610.

Bulls also were positive in the light of coming meetings of key central banks – on the 1st of May will be finished the next meeting of FRS, and on May 2 the decision on an interest rate will be made by European Central Bank. From FRS the investment community expects comments on recent deterioration of macroeconomic statistics and, respectively, promises of extension of QE at least until the end of the year; from the European central bank wait fall of an interest rate which ripened owing to lack of any signs of revival of economy of the region. Speculative expectations of cheap money as usual maintain appetite to risk, and Monday didn’t become an exception.

The trading session at Asian stock markets takes place today with mainly positive dynamics, continuing yesterday’s growth over the ocean, but the Japanese market which has come back from days off, looks worse than the colleagues. One of the reasons is dynamics in the currency market where USD/JPY pair continues movement under level 98, after it was once again rolled away from a level of 100 last week.

Also a big block of macro statistics has been issued today in Japan, mainly positive, however this factor is mainly ignored by Japanese investors. In particular unemployment rate decreased in March to 4,1%, expenses of households grew by 5,2% in annual calculation, the production PMI index raised to 51,1, and retails of the largest networks grew by 2,4%. Only an industrial production was worse than expectations and grew for March only by 0,2% at forecasts of growth for 0,4%.

In Australia, meanwhile, continues growth of the banking sector, and yesterday’s leaders of growth – National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group add today another 2,5% and 4,5% respectively.

Prices of oil and precious metals are weaker this morning. Brent is on a level 103.55$ per barrel – loosing 0.25%. Gold and silver are on a levels 1460.93 and 23.98 respectively.

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25 April 2013: Nikkei extends its sharp rally

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The Japanese Nikkei index extended previous session’s sharp rally in early trade on Thursday. USD/JPY is steady on 99,41 and continues to lick at the magic 100 level. Euro/USD is 1.3046 up 50 points from yesterday when the Euro dipped under 1,30. The week picture inside the Euro zone points towards European Central Bank (ECB) interest rate cut next week. Both New York (NYMEX) and Brent crude are up. Brent trades at 102.18. Gold jumps 20 dollars to 1447 an ounce in Asian trading.

The Japanese ally is driven by expectations that yen weakness will spur strong earnings for local firms. Nikkei is up 0,3% to 167,10. The Asian Pacific, MSCI-index is also up 0,3%, basically on the belief that weak global economic data will encourage central banks to keep their monetary easing economic stimulus policies. US durable goods orders for March were disappointing, and weighed in on the strength of the dollar which is weaker towards Euro, Yen and other major currencies.

The growing expectations for an ECB interest rate cut helped offset the growth concerns highlighted by US durable goods. Durable goods orders posted its biggest drop in seven months in March. Together with a survey highlighting increasing pessimism among German business leaders in April, future forecasts are bearish. The sentiment in Europe is somewhat strengthened by falling bond yields in indebted countries like Italy and Spain. A possible end to the two months political deadlock in Italy, has further strengthened. A 37 years old has been appointed new Premier and the tenure for their 87 years old President is prolonged.

The US government will on Friday present its report on gross domestic product, GDP. The report is expected to show that the economy grew at a 3% annual in the first quarter rebounding from a 0,4 % gain in the final three months of 2012. For the current quarter an expansion of 1,5% is expected. Raising oil and copper prices indicate a turn towards more positive market sentiment. Gold which fell to USD 1322 after losing 250 dollars in two days, have recovered strongly to 1447.

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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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