25 JUNE 2013: DOLLAR STRENGTHENS WITH SHARES FALLING

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Global stocks continued to fall steeply on Monday after the trading week started with new lack luster sessions in Asia. Shares declined heavily in Europe and Dow Jones Industrial lost 0.94% adding to the 2% fall last week. Materials, industrials and financial stocks led by Bank of America ended in deep red, negative territory.

The technology heavy Nasdaq declined 1.04%. Equity markets regained some ground in the last half of the session, but the onslaught on stocks seems to be by no way over. Most of the gains after the last half years stock rally have been wiped out after the US Federal Reserve, FED, last Wednesday announced an end to the FED bond buying program of USD 85 billion monthly.

This monetary easing program has given stock markets added liquidity and taken them to new record highs. Capital has been pumped into the more risky emerging markets, which also have seen successful bond issues by in weak economies as Rwanda and Honduras. FED’s announcement has created panic like reactions and led to a flow of capital out of emerging markets and big declines in their currencies.

The last four days developments have grossly strengthened the USD. The DXY-index, a basket of currencies weighed against the Dollar, is at its highest level since June last year. A more optimistic business outlook from Germany has kept EUR/USD steady above 1.31. A decline below 1.3072 will, however, imply a strong bearish signal.

USD/JPY has also kept steady over the last 24 hours trading just below 98 Yen to a Dollar. The Australian Dollar has recovered 0.5% from the 33 month low following the bad financial news from China yesterday morning. The Aussie Dollar is extremely volatile to any changes in China. Precious metals continue to be under strong pressure set for new lows. The same goes for oil in spite of the tense situation in the Middle East.

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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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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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13 JUNE 2013: ASIAN MARKET PLUNGES WITH STRONGER YEN

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The Dollar plunged to its lowest level in ten weeks against JPY at 94.81, while the Asian stock markets experienced one of its worst one day down falls. All the Asian markets ended in red territory with the Japanese Nikkei 500 index falling as much as 5.3 %. Tumbling Japanese shares accelerated the fall of the Dollar as Nikkei- investors continued to unwind earlier hedges against a weaker Yen. The Dollar has lost 8.6 % since hitting a four year high of 103,74 on May 22.

The latest developments demonstrate the gamble involved in Central Bank’s monetary easing. Investors have snapped up Japanese shares between mid-November and May, as a weaker Yen promised to fatten exporter’s overseas revenues. Now a stronger Yen threatens to do the opposite, leading to further sell-offs in the Nikkei. The tumults in Asia come on top of uncertainty about whether the US Federal Reserve (FED) will pare back its stimulus program buying bonds and treasury bills. Japanese bond selling is adding to the pressure on the currency.

The fall in Asian shares followed a weak session in New York. Dow Jones Industrial was down 0.84 % while the technology heavy Nasdaq lost 1.06. The Dollar lost 0.3 % against a basket of currencies, DXY, ending at 80.741 after falling below 80.651, a level not seen since February. The Dollar has lost 4 % since its three-year high on May 25th. Adjustments in overextended long USD positions rather than a changing perception of US growth and Fed outlook, seems to be behind the weaker Dollar.

Weakness in the Dollar saw the Euro climb to a near four-month high of 1.3370. Euro/USD trades now at 1.3356. It is difficult to explain the stronger Euro, the recession in the Euro zone taken into account. Recent polls show, however, that a majority of analysts believe that ECB will keep the interest rate at the present level. Optimists are also suggesting that the euro zone will return to modest growth later this year.

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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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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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14 March 2013: Retail report boosts DOW to new high

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Surprisingly strong retail sales helped the Dow Jones Industrial to rise for the ninth straight session in a stock rally not seen since 1996. The new record high posted for DOW is 14 455. Also Nasdaq edged higher to 3 245. Trading volume was light with investors consolidating positions after a strong run up in the three first months of the year. Sign of strength in the economy and the Federal Reserve’s (FED) monetary easing have accelerated the advance of US equities, but many investors are asking whether we are in for a technical correction. The retail sales report helped underscore the impression that the economy is gaining momentum.

Asian shares fell for the second day in row with regional factors outweighing the positive sentiments from another Wall Street record close. The MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific was down 0,6%. Australia plunged 1% in spite of positive employment numbers. The Australian dollar reacted positive to the employment news and hit a five-week high. The Japanese Nikkei bucked the negative trend and added 0,4%. Net inflows in Japanese mutual funds reached USD 11 billion in February. A domestic stock rally for the last four months have increased investor’s appetite for Japanese stocks.

Monetary policy direction remains diverse in Asia as countries also watch development in Chinese economy and North Korea closely. Japan wants powerful monetary easing to get out of a vicious deflation spiral harming its economy for two decades. Other central bankers are fearful of inflation. South Korea has been holding the interest rate steady at 2,75% for the last half year.

The Australian dollar jumped to USD 1,0383 after employment soared by 71 000 in February. JPY continues to gain strengthen against USD trading at 96,03 down from its 96,71 peak on Tuesday. Euro/JPY has also retreated from its record high on Tuesday. The brighter forecast for the US economy has negatively affected the Euro trading down to 1,2947. The yield on Italian short and long term bonds increased during yesterday’s auction, the first after the rating agency Fitch downgraded Italy’s credit rating in February. Investor’s attention will today turn to the Spanish bond auction.

Oil prices, gold and silver have dropped since yesterday. NYMEX crude trades at USD 92,28 a barrel. Brent crude is down to 108,40. Gold trades at USD 1586 an ounce. 

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13 March 2013: Fear of triple dip recession puts GBP under pressure

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Fears of a triple-dip recession put new downward pressure on British Sterling (GBP) yesterday. January data showed a surprise fall in British industrial output. This pushed GBP down to a low level of $1.482. USD/GBP has since recovered and trades 0,2% to 1.4933. The state of the British economy is highly questionable. Some analysts are waiting an even weaker British sterling, and expect to see that USD/GBP can fall as low as 1.35.

Asian shares fell on Wednesday as the recent stock rally run seems to run out of steam. The MSCI index for Asia-Pacific outside Japan fell 0,6%. Stocks in Australia, Hong Kong and mainland China also fell from 0,6 to 1%. The Dow Jones Industrial, however, posted a new record high rising for the eight straight day on Tuesday. European shares retreated just short of fresh 4-and-a-half year high. Some investors fear that stocks have risen, too, quickly without fundamental support. Investors might be more risk willing, but are still scared by past events as the financial crisis in 2008 where fingers were burnt.

USD/JPY which fell to a low of 96,71 yesterday, trades today at 95,87 reflecting fears that the yen has fallen, too, steeply. The Nikkei stock index retreated 0,5% on profit taking after the last days strong rally; boosting exporters taking advantage of a weaker yen.

Euro/USD is steady in the interval between 1,3030 and 1.3040. It was weighed down on Tuesday by a warning from the Chairman of the Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, who is also on the board of ECB, the European Central Bank. Weidmann stated that euro crisis in no way is over. In other developments drought has put the New Zealand agricultural dependent currency under pressure.

NYMEX crude is up to USD 92,71 a barrel while Brent crude is weaker at 109,64. Gold, silver and copper are all up 0,2% clinging to gains earlier in the week. Gold trades at USD 1592.

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12 March 2013: Asian stocks higher on record Wall Street

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Wall Street’s record close overnight bolstered most Asian shares on Tuesday. Growing confidence in the US economy underpinned investors risk appetite. The Japanese yen slipped to fresh lows on speculation over imminent monetary easing. USD/JPY stands at a new low of 96,51. JPY is losing ground also against Euro and Australian dollar. Euro/USD is trading at 1.3027.

The US stock indexes extended its winning streak to seven sessions and touched its highest intraday level since October 2007. Dow Jones closed at a record high 14 447. The MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific also continued up led by financials echoing US trading where finance were the best performing sector. Also Australia, Hong Kong and Shanghai were up as the Japanese Nikkei. The weaker yen is giving exporters a welcomed boost and Nikkei was up for the eight day in row.

The dollar index, DXY, has benefited from last week’s strong labor data, and continues to jump against the yen. Analysts stress that dollar/yen may take a pause in the second quarter when seasonal weaknesses typically slow US economic indicators. They see a possible USD/JPY downside on 92 yen to a dollar with strong technical support around the 90 level. For now the trend is clearly towards a continued weaker yen.

Euro/USD is steady at 1.3030 level. The Euro is under pressure from Italy’s inconclusive last month elections which are weighing in and delaying the country’s fiscal reform efforts. Gold has edged to 1583 marginally up from yesterday. In new York US crude, NYMEX, traded up 0,2% at USD 92,21 a barrel. Brent crude trades up from below 110 to USD 110,20 a barrel.

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11 March 2013: US-Dollar keeps the upper hand

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The USD keeps the upper hand in the currencies markets and continue to gain both against a currency basket and major currencies as Euro, GBP and JPY. USD/JPY traded at 96,10 – a 3-and-a-half year high following surprisingly strong USD labor data on Friday. US employers added a more-than-expected 236 000 workers to their payrolls in February. The jobless rate fell to a four year low of 7,7%.

There is still a way to go before the unemployment numbers reach the 6,5% target set by the Federal Reserve (FED) and monetary easing is reconsidered. Before this target is obtained the US economy must produce more than 200 000 monthly jobs for the next three consecutive months. The strong February data has, however, created a momentum and new optimism that the US economy finally is turning and lying the financial crisis from the autumn 2008 behind.

Risk appetite was, however, curbed by a mixed bag of economic data from China painting a patchy recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. The data signaled a looming dilemma for policymakers, as inflation stood at a 10 month high in February. Factory output and consumer spending were weaker than forecast. The data caught commodity prices between growing optimism of increased consumption and a stronger dollar. Non-dollar holders are buying dollar-denominated commodities.

In Asia the MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific was up 0,1% while Shanghai fell 0,3%. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its fourth consecutive record high on Friday. European shares also jumped on the strong US labor data. The strength of the dollar is also a reflection of more fundamental money flows out of the yen and euro. These developments nudge the dollar higher. Currency speculators are boosting their bets in favor of USD and raised their short positions in most other currencies as yen, pound sterling GBP and Euro. Oil and precious metal prices keep steady. 

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