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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06 JUNE 2013: YEN JUMPS AS WALL STREET FALLS

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The Yen rose sharply early Thursday. USD/JPY dropped to 99.00, up more than one percent since yesterday. Commodity currencies are under strong pressure with the Australian Dollar at a 19-month low. The currency volatility follows a steep fall in US stocks Wednesday extending the previous days sell-off. Dow Jones dipped under 15.000 due to concerns that the US Federal Reserve, FED, may scale down its bond-buying stimulus when the economy is still sluggish.

The sell-off on Wall Street was broadly based with four decliners to one advancing stock. The selling might suggest that the seven-month stock rally is coming to an end. The S&P 500 has fallen 3.6 percent since its peak on May the 21st, one day before Ben Bernanke indicated that FED might taper its stimulus if economic data shows traction. The jobless numbers and unemployment statistics to be presented tomorrow are therefore crucial.

Both Dow Jones and Nasdaq registered their biggest percentage drops in six weeks. Most Asian markets suffered similar falls and slipped to fresh lows. Economic data has recently been mixed. Investors fear that FED will reduce their monetary easing before the economy is back on track, in spite of clear FED statements that the stimulus will continue until unemployment is reduced to 6.5 %. A report yesterday showed that private employers created far less jobs in May than the 160,000 predicted. The figures are a strong argument against changes.

The long term bullish outlook on the USD/JPY remains. Analysts don’t predict steeper falls from here and still see 120 as likely in 6 – 12 months. EUR/USD is resilient, reaching 1.3118 yesterday before falling back to 1.3095. The stronger Euro comes ahead of ECBs policy meeting. ECB will probably consider whether it is necessary to take fresh action in order to secure the expected recovery of the euro zone in the second half of 2013.

 

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24 MAY 2013: SERIOUS MELTDOWN IN GLOBAL EQUITIES

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Dubious signals from the US Federal Reserve, FED, on continued monetary easing, and disappointing Chinese PMI numbers (a barometer on business leaders optimism), led to a serious meltdown in global equity markets yesterday. The Japanese Nikkei plunged 7,32 % with more modest losses in Europe, where London and Frankfurt indexes lost 2 %.

While FED’s Ben Bernanke testimony to Congress, warned against a premature end to the bond buying program, FED’s April minutes pointed to a split between those who want a quick termination of the program and those siding with Bernanke. Monetary easing has been the driving force behind the last months steep increases in equities.

It is natural to see the steep plunge in Japan as a result of a doubling in stock prices over the last half year and the latest aggressive stimulus policies. Globally, there have been increased worries among investors as to whether equity markets, running ahead of fundamentals, are creating a dangerous bubble. With news of an end to monetary easing and problems in China this created risk aversion and a sell off.

The fall in the US-indexes were modest following the onslaught in other markets. The last published jobless claims at 340,000, are 5000 fewer than expected. There is still a long shot to the 6,5 % unemployment target set by FED, but fewer jobless claims would give the proponents of an early end to the bond buying programs new arguments.

Oil prices which have kept surprisingly steady over the last month, decreased more than two dollars a barrel.

EUR/USD got support from higher than expected PMI indexes. As a result, EUR/USD from level of opening – 1,2855 was rolled away to a maximum of 1,2956 and this morning we can see pair traded on a level of 1.2932. GBP/USD behaved more frostily against volatility of both currency pairs and share indexes. Having reached quite strong support on 1,50 the previous trading day, pair showed moderate correction. The most important question of today is- whether the Yen finished it’s decline? Taking into consideration all the factors, pair can quite roll down to the area of 100.00.
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06 MAY 2013: US JOB REPORT EASES FEARS

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The US stock markets reached new highs on Friday. The S&P 500 index smashed through the 1600 mark for the first time in history. All 30 companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose as that benchmark crossed 15 000 for the first time after better than expected jobs reports. Non-farm payrolls increased with 165 000 jobs in April. Analysts forecast was 140 000. The unemployment rate fell to 7,5%, the lowest level since December 2008. Asian stocks spurred higher Monday morning on the US job data.

The better than expected jobs report eased fears about the health of the world’s largest economy which remains on a path of modest, but resilient growth. The Federal Reserve (FED) indicated last week that it is prepared to increase the USD 185 Billion –a-month pace of its third round of quantitative easing. The new figures mean there is little chance for such an increase. The job creation in April was heavily weighted towards the service sector. The production side with construction was shedding 6000 jobs. There is also a dip in average weekly hours from 34,6 to 34,4.

The US job data follow central banks meetings last week. While the US FED expressed readiness to increase monetary easing, the European Central Bank (ECB) informed that if necessary it would consider taking deposit rates negative. The mere fact that the key central banks aired such an opportunity was enough to sustain the rally in stocks, bonds and credit demonstrated by the new records on Wall Street and the positive sentiments in Asia this morning. Decreasing rates meaning that stocks are the most attractive alternative investment.

Oil prices have also been given a boost by the US jobs reports. New York crude (NYMEX) is for the first time in weeks trading above USD 96 a barrel. Brent crude is at 104,50. Copper is in the limelight after a 6,5% rally to USD 7 270 on Friday. Copper has fallen nearly 20 percent in the past three months on worries of a slowing world economy. Japanese yen is falling against the dollar trading at 99,08 yen to a dollar. Euro/USD is at 1.3122.
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03 MAY 2013: ECB RATE CUTS SUPPORT SHARES

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EUR/USD lost more than 100 points after the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to cut interest rate with 0,25 % to a historical low of 0,50. The Euro fell immediately on the announcement and trades at 1.3074. The decision received cheers from stock markets which rallied in early Asian trade on Friday. In the US Wall street was helped by a sharp fall in last week’s jobless claims which fell to its lowest level in five years.

The smaller number of Americans seeking jobless benefits claims was seen as a sign of a healing job market in spite of the presentation a ray of weak economic data lately. US stocks were also helped by a narrowing trade gap in March. The fact that both imports and exports fell, indicate, however, weaker demand, and tells of weakening growth momentum both in the US and globally.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped with 18 000 last week to seasonally adjusted 324 000. The claims report runs counter to a number of signals of economic activity softening in March and April. The data has no direct bearing on the Labour Department’s monthly employment report which is expected later today. It suggests, however, that employers are feeling less pressure to lay off workers even if they have cut back on hiring.

Oil, copper and gold prices traded higher with Brent crude up 2 % to 102,65. The US stock rally was led by tech shares. Facebook delivered better than expected and rose 5 %. The ECB decision to cut rates for the first time in 10 months helped market sentiment and bolstered the content of the Federal Reserve (FED) statement Wednesday. FED will continue to buy bonds to keep interest low and spur growth. If necessary FED kept the door open for stepping up the purchases. Also the ECB kept options for further action to stimulate the economy.
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