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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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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05 JUNE 2013: US AND ASIAN STOCKS DECLINE ON FED UNCERTAINTY

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Asian stocks slipped to their lowest level in 2013 as uncertainty over when the US Federal Reserve (FED) would begin scaling down its massive stimulus program. Since 2008, FED has injected 2,5 trillion dollars into bonds to boost the economy. The increased liquidity has mainly benefited US-stocks which have reached new highs, but also led to an inflow of US-funds into Asian and other markets. There are now increased worries, especially in Asia, about funds flowing out of the region.

Over the past few days, this trend has been reflected in a stronger Japanese Yen (JPY). Foreign funds have, for the last few months, been injected into a rapidly increasing and profitable Japanese stock market. Foreign capital is now taking profit and selling Yen with the effect that the JPY has increased 4 % in the last few days in relation to USD. USD/JPY fell below 100 on Monday, recovered early during Wednesday’s session, but later dipped back to 99.2 Yen to a Dollar.

US stocks ended even lower on Tuesday, resuming their recent decline, as investors sold growth-oriented sectors on speculation the Federal Reserve may slow down the pace of its economic stimulus. The indexes have fallen 2 percent from their peak on May 22nd as investors take profit. Dow Jones was down 0.50 % at 15 177. A top US-official, critical to the bond buying program, stated yesterday that FED is poised to re-evaluate and possibly make changes to its massive monetary stimulus.

FED Chairman, Ben Bernanke, has been consistent in his comments on monetary easing and stressed that proof of a real turnaround in US economy reflected in an unemployment target of 6,5, which is necessary before making changes. After the disappointing manufacturing data earlier this week, the jobless claims presented on Friday might prove decisive for whether the stimulus program is going to be continued until the end of the year.

The Dollar recovered from an early-week selloff on Wednesday while the Australian Dollar plunged to a 19 month low on the back of disappointing growth data. Euro/USD is at 1.3086 back from a one-month high on 1.3108.There is strong technical resistance at 1.3141. Oil prices are up. NYMEX is at 93,63 and Brent crude trades above USD 103 a barrel.

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28 MAY 2013: JAPANESE STOCKS FALL AS YEN SOARS

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The Japanese stock market continued to fall another 3,25 %, after Friday’s dramatic 7,32 % fall. The US dollar simultaneously witnessed its worst week against the JPY in one year, dropping from 103.50 to 101.09 Yen a Dollar on Friday.The Yen traded even lower yesterday, dipping below 101 at one point.

 

Western European equity markets have recovered from the downward shock at the end of last week. The French index jumped 0.97 % during yesterday’s trade, and Germany’s Frankfurt index added another 0.85 %. Nordic equities were strong while the British FYTSE lost 0.64 %. Developing markets also recovered with India jumping 2.47 %.

 

The Australian Dollar continues to fall, and trades just above 96 against the USD, on news that China has no intentions to stimulate growth at the expense of environment. The fall in the Chinese PMI last week had a further negative effect. Australia is dependent on coal export and Chinese growth. For Australia, its alarming that China is said to cut down on coal and encourage gas and solar energy to fight pollution.

 

The Euro/USD is strengthened and close to break through both the 21 and 50 days moving averages, helped by lower yields on Italian and Spanish bonds. The recent sharp downturn in USD/JPY is seen by analysts as a correction after huge amount of speculative Dollars gambled on a lower Yen. The strength of the yen is, however, temporary, and the weakness in the Japanese currency is bound to continue.
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