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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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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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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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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