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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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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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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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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08 March 2013: USD/JPY rallies before US jobs

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The dollar surged to its highest level against Japanese yen in 3-1/2-year before US job numbers for February are going to be presented later today. USD stands at 95,43 yen up 0,6% since yesterday. It is expected that that the US economy last month created net 160 000 new jobs. The unemployment rate still stands at 7,9% far from the 6,5% which the Federal Reserve (FED) has set as target for ending monetary easing.

Investors waiting for more dovish signals from the European Central Bank (ECB) at its press conference yesterday was disappointed. The single currency posted its biggest rally this year and jumped more than 100 points against the dollar and stands at 1.3092 after flirting with 1.29 figures earlier in the week. ECB President Mario Draghi plaid down the threat of contagion to other euro members following the Italian political stalemate. Draghi stressed growing market confidence in the Euro which had EURO bears quickly to cover short positions.

The Euro skyrocketed 2% to 124,57 against the JPY. It stood at 118,74 last week. The 34 month peak of 127,71 set last month is thereby brought back in play. The rally might, however, be short played with investor’s attention back on Chinese trade data and whether the US unemployment rate will stay at 7.9%.

Bank of England (BOE) kept its guns yesterday and held fire on the expected more economic stimulus. The downward pressure on British sterling (GBP) continues, however. USD/GBP trades again below 1.50 after seeing some recovery yesterday. There is no change in the choppy trading pattern in commodity related currencies. Oil prices are steady. Gold fell back from USD 1583 an ounce reached yesterday to 1567 this morning.

The stock rally in the United States continue. Dow Jones ended at record high for the third straight day boosted by expectations of a pick-up in the payrolls report. Growth oriented sectors led the gains with strong jumps in Bank of America (up 2,9%) and JP Morgan Chase (1,2%). Worries about the path of US fiscal policy and the Euro zone crisis loom, however, in the background. For the moment the Bulls are in advance. 

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