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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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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29 MAY 2013: USD RALLIES ON STRONG DATA

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US Dollar rallied against the Euro and Japanese Yen on strong consumer confidence, home prices accelerating to the highest levels seen in seven years. EURO/USD fell to 1.2874 while USD/JPY plunged to 102.58. Dow Jones jumped 92 points to 15.395 while the technology index Nasdaq added 0.62 %. The yield on US 10 years treasuries, simultaneously, reached a one year high.

After three losing sessions, global equity markets performed strongly. The Japanese Nikkei were up 1.3 % on Tuesday after a two day dramatic 10 percent plunge. All the European stock exchanges rose, UK being the strongest, with a 1.83 % increase. English and US markets were closed on Monday due to Memorial Day.

The equity rally came as central bankers in Germany and Japan confirmed their willingness to continue monetary easing. A German member of the European Central Bank (ECB) stated that the loose monetary policies would last for as long as it takes to get the Western European economy back on track. A representative from Bank of Japan issued a similar statement.

These strong statements will probably encourage more risk taking in higher yield assets financed through so called carry trading; cheap loans in Japanese Yen. While increased consumer confidence and higher home prices strengthen the USD, looser ECB monetary policies will lead to a weaker EURO/USD. A fall below the long traded interval,1.28 – 1.32, seems likely.

Japanese Yen is probably going to fall further as the short lived Yen rally indicates. The weakness in the Yen is there to be continued. Currency analysts are predicting within three months 106 Yen to the Dollar, and expect a further plunge to 109 within six months. Bottom levels are as low as 120 – 125 Yen a Dollar and seem likely in 2014.

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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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24 April 2013: Apple lifts Asia after false tweet

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Apple climbed 4,9% to USD 425,95 in after closing trade yesterday night after reporting strong second quarter earnings. Apple also unveiled plans to double the amount of capital returned to shareholders after for a long time being heavily criticized for not sharing excessive profits. The Apple quarterly report made stock markets in Asia to rally. Wall Street recovered Tuesday after initial sharp declines sparked by an Associated Press tweet about explosions in the White House.

The false tweet by hackers of two explosions at the White House that injured US President Barack Obama, provoked a steep drop in stocks. The benchmark S&P index fell 16,6 points or close to one percent in 3 minutes. Index values of USD 136 billion were wiped out. Stocks quickly recovered minutes later. The tweet episode illustrates the advantages, but simultaneously the fall outs of an instantaneous pricing technology.

Asian shares advanced on Wednesday on the back of Apple and other solid US quarterly earnings. The Euro came under pressure by soft German data which underscored the fragile state of the euro zone economy. The Asia-Pacific MSCI-index climbed 0,8%. The Australian stock index gained 1.4% along with a firmer Aussie dollar. The positive US numbers also gave a lift to oil and other commodities. Copper is up after several day’s decline. Brent crude trades at USD 100,54 a barrel. Gold (USD 1426) and silver (USD 23,15) prices are up after falling back during yesterday’s trading.

The more positive tone in global equities markets seem to indicate that investors regard continued monetary easing by major central banks as justified. Monetary easing encourages investments in shares. But that also means that stock markets don’t reflect the real economic fundamentals. Equities continue to rally in spite of sluggish manufacturing surveys and weaker economic data from both the US and China, the two major engines in the global economy.

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16 April 2013: Gold prices collapse

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Gold collapsed completely yesterday as precious metals plunged to the lowest levels seen in years. Gold trades at USD 1351 an ounce falling 250 dollar in two days. Silver fell from USD 28,25 ending yesterday at 22,50. Oil and other commodity prices sharply declined. Brent crude fell below the critical USD 100 a barrel level at USD 98,42. Stock market plunged as investors dumped risky assets and worries over slowing growth in China and US took hold. After a short spell of relief, Japanese yen, JPY, continued to slide against USD, before rebounding to 97,67 yen to a dollar.

The dramatic development in financial markets follows a worldwide rally in stocks in the first months of 2013 where daily new records on Wall Street have outpaced fundamentals. The monetary easing in the US, Europe and lastly Japan have injected huge capital into stocks without succeeding to create new employment. Risk markets have been rallying at a pace not in line with a tepid global growth recovery. Investor’s sell off of precious metals, commodities and shares might be seen as a last ditch effort to take some profit while markets evert to levels more in line with fundamentals.

Investors are reassessing their portfolio allocations for the second quarter of 2013 on that basis. In this perspective it seems likely that funds would be pulled out of the US stock market also taking European uncertainties into account. US debt might then back as a secure long term investment and reduce demands for an alternative safe-haven as gold. There are therefore valid question marks as to whether the deep plunge in gold will continue and that we are still far from a bottom.

USD/JPY recovered during Monday. The dollar fell to 95,67 yen. The Euro hit a low of 125 yen. Both USD and Euro have rebounded. Euro is trading at 126,75 yen. In a market dominated by steep falls and quick rebounds, EURO/USD has traded steady in an interval between 1.3050 and 1.31. In early Asian trading, the Asian-Pacific index, MSCI, has stabilized after a 2% drop in European and US markets yesterday. A bomb explosion killing two and injuring 130 people at the finish line of the Boston marathon added to the downward pressure on the New York exchanges. 

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