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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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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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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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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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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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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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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