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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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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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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25 April 2013: Nikkei extends its sharp rally

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The Japanese Nikkei index extended previous session’s sharp rally in early trade on Thursday. USD/JPY is steady on 99,41 and continues to lick at the magic 100 level. Euro/USD is 1.3046 up 50 points from yesterday when the Euro dipped under 1,30. The week picture inside the Euro zone points towards European Central Bank (ECB) interest rate cut next week. Both New York (NYMEX) and Brent crude are up. Brent trades at 102.18. Gold jumps 20 dollars to 1447 an ounce in Asian trading.

The Japanese ally is driven by expectations that yen weakness will spur strong earnings for local firms. Nikkei is up 0,3% to 167,10. The Asian Pacific, MSCI-index is also up 0,3%, basically on the belief that weak global economic data will encourage central banks to keep their monetary easing economic stimulus policies. US durable goods orders for March were disappointing, and weighed in on the strength of the dollar which is weaker towards Euro, Yen and other major currencies.

The growing expectations for an ECB interest rate cut helped offset the growth concerns highlighted by US durable goods. Durable goods orders posted its biggest drop in seven months in March. Together with a survey highlighting increasing pessimism among German business leaders in April, future forecasts are bearish. The sentiment in Europe is somewhat strengthened by falling bond yields in indebted countries like Italy and Spain. A possible end to the two months political deadlock in Italy, has further strengthened. A 37 years old has been appointed new Premier and the tenure for their 87 years old President is prolonged.

The US government will on Friday present its report on gross domestic product, GDP. The report is expected to show that the economy grew at a 3% annual in the first quarter rebounding from a 0,4 % gain in the final three months of 2012. For the current quarter an expansion of 1,5% is expected. Raising oil and copper prices indicate a turn towards more positive market sentiment. Gold which fell to USD 1322 after losing 250 dollars in two days, have recovered strongly to 1447.

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10 April 2013: Dow closing at record high

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US-Stocks advanced on Tuesday with Dow Jones closing at a record high following a rally in cyclical shares and as the earnings season started to heat up. Asian stocks edged higher in Wednesday morning trade. Chinese trade data signaled a recovery in the world’s second largest economy as imports grew 14,1% year on year, much higher than expectations. The yen remained under pressure. USD/JPY stayed on 99; not able to break through the psychological 100 yen a dollar barrier.

The return to record levels indicates that investors again are using market declines as buying opportunities. The two winning groups, technology and energy, are closely tied to the pace of the economic growth. Microsoft jumped 3,6% as the top gainer on Dow Jones which advanced 0,41% to a record high on 14 673. Stocks were given a boost from the earnings session. ¾ of the 5% of the companies hitherto reporting results, have delivered higher than expectations.

In advance of the reports of earnings for the second quarter expectations have deliberately been plaid down. Alcoa, the aluminium producer, which traditionally is first out with its quarterly report, filed its adjusted results late on Monday, setting the tone for the earnings season. Alcoa’s results were slightly better than expectations. The Alcoa stock ended flat. First Solar Inc was the shining star with a surge of 45,5%. Solar’s results lifted the whole solar sector.

The dollar which has jumped 7% against yen since the Bank of Japan (BOJ) last Thursday stated that it will pump USD 1,4 trillion into the Japanese economy, was not able to break through the 100 level. This might easily happen during the week. Australian dollar continues to demonstrate strength after the surge in Chinese import. Euro/USD is steady in the interval between 1.3050 and 1.31.

Oil prices have recovered after the steep fall last week. NYMEX, New York crude, trades at 93,91 and Brent crude is at USD 106,40; up two dollars from the lows yesterday. Precious metals are up with gold trading at USD 1585 an ounce. 

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Euro weakens as unemployment climbs

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Euro/USD fell to 1.2803 as unemployment inside the euro zone fell to a record high 12,5 %. The euro fell against 12 of its 16 most traded peers as unemployment continued to soar in Greece and Spain adding to concern of an even deeper recession. Unemployment in Greece reached 26,7 % with 60 % of the youth without jobs. A mix of lower than expected industrial manufacturing data and unemployment paint a grim picture for hopes of a quick recovery inside the euro zone.

Asian stocks fell before later publication of new US job numbers. The dollar index (DXY) which has fallen for the last days rose 82,920 as gold prices plunged 35 dollars to USD 1567 an ounce. Copper and silver continue to fall while oil prices are steady. New York crude (NYMEX) has been trading above 96 for the whole week and Brent crude above USD 110 a barrel. The European Central Bank (ECB) which along with the EU and International Monetary Fund, IMF, has been strongly criticized for its handling of the Cyprus crisis, meets on April 4th.

As indicated in our Daily Report yesterday Cyprus has started a blame hunt for a crisis running out of hand. Finance Minister Michael Sarris who conducted the bailout negotiations in Brussels and afterwards came empty handed back from Moscow, resigned on Tuesday and was replaced by Labour Minister Haris Georiades. Sarris has for the last year served as President of the Board in the bankrupt Popular Bank of Cyprus, Laiki. Over the last months Laiki received billions of Euros from ECB in emergency funding.

 The use of these funds will be part of a special investigation conducted by three special judges appointed by President Nikos Anastasiades. The judges shall within three months present a report on whom bear responsibility for the crisis. Bank of Cyprus (BOC) and Laiki Bank were till recently regarded as solid profitable national flagships. The two banks have over the last 2 – 3 years lost billions of euro on speculation in Greek treasury bills and unsecured loans to Greek individuals and companies.

President Anastasiades himself came under fire yesterday when it was known that a company headed by his son in law and other relatives presumably transferred 21 million euro out of Cyprus just before the controversial EU decision to raid bank deposits took place. Anastasiades flatly rejected tip-off to close family members or any other wrong doing; “I never knew, and it was never possible for me to wage war until Saturday morning March 16th to avoid what they imposed on us and at the same time supposedly tip-off people”.

Other politicians have received similar accusations which would be subject for the investigations. Even if lose accusations, the tip-off suspicions illustrate what the Cypriot public regards as, too, “cosy” relations between bankers and politicians.

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29 March 2013: USA Markets – S&P index beat its historical maximum

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Yesterday stock market of United States finished trading session with a moderate growth, at the same time the index of the wide market S&P 500, during the last minutes of the trading session, managed to subdue the level of its historical maximum 1565,15 points and was closed 4 points above it. Data on GDP of the USA presented yesterday, where the indicator increased by 0,4% in comparison with the previous assessment in 0,1% gave support to the market and positively influenced purchasing moods. The rest of the statistical data was not so positive, the number of primary requests for unemployment benefits last week increased by 16 thousand to 357 thousand and significantly exceeded expectations, and the Chicago index of business activity in March made only 52,4 points and more than 4 points didn’t hold on to average forecasts.

Asian stock markets in the last working day not only of this week, but also month, and also the whole quarter show quiet multidirectional dynamics. Trading volumes are insignificant. The Japanese stock exchange bargains almost neutrally. Nevertheless, index Nikkei is ending quarter with growth of nearly 19%, which is the best result since middle of 2009. At the end of March the Nikkei index keeps about levels 12300-12400, which is just a bit lower its maximum levels. From the middle of November growth of the main exchange indicator of the country grew almost by 45%.

Leading stock indexes of Europe also closed yesterday’s trading session with a moderate growth – the British FTSE-100 grew up for +0,38%, the German DAX grew by 0,08%, the French CAC increased for +0,52%. Also it should be noted that in relation to the Catholic holiday “Passionate Friday”, markets of the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and as well as many European platforms are going to be closed today.

Prices of oil following the results of last trading session continued a shy rebound upward and again showed positive dynamics. In the short term ascending dynamics can be continued up to the closest zone of resistance around $112-113 for barrel. This morning, we can see BRENT traded on a level of 109.77$ per barrel, NYMEX adds 0.67% in price and is on a level of 97.23$ per barrel.     

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28 March 2013: Asian indexes are decreasing on news that China is going to limit foreign investments

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China will encourage foreign investments into services and high technologies sectors, but at the same time will rigidly limit capital investments in construction, real estate, and also the projects, differing to high power consumption and polluting environment. This news brought negative impact on Asian stock markets where weaker than the others is Chinese continental SSE index. Most of all it was reflected in the banking sector, where Bank of Communications and China Merchant Bank are losing more than 4%.

On Wednesday, American market could not any longer ignore bad news coming from the Europe and did not continue its growth started the day before. Index of incomplete transactions on sale of houses in February decreased more strongly than expected 104,8 points. Following the results of the trading session the indicator of “blue chips” the Dow Jones Industrial Average index was closed with -0,23% on a level 14526,16 points, the S&P 500 lost 0,06%, and the index of the hi-tech companies Nasdaq grew up for 0,12% to a level of 3256,52 points.

In Europe, besides Cyprus – Italy is again coming to the headers of news feeds. On last placement of the Italian debt papers, Rome managed to attract only 6,91 billion euro from the planned 7 billion euro. In Nicosia, in turn, the authorities presented a package of measures for capital control. Among other things it should be noted that single withdrawal of funds won’t exceed 300 euros, and it will not be possible to take more than 1000 euros out of the country. The Cypriot banks will open today after almost two-week break.

Prices for oil are stable this morning and both Brent and NYMEX are adding 0.22% and 0.33% accordingly. Brent is traded on a level 109.94$ per barrel and NYMEX on a level of 96.90$. Ascending movement proceeds against noticeable strengthening of the American dollar in relation to the majority of world currencies. Gold is losing 0.12% and is traded on a level of 1604.28$ per troy ounce.

EUR/USD pair is slightly correcting and is strengthening for 0.20% traded on a level 1.2804.

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27 March 2013: Asian shares gains on positive US data

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Asian shares rose on Wednesday as positive US data confirm a moderate recovery. US Home sales and manufacturing fed optimism with the Dow Jones industrial climbing more than 100 points to a new record high. 14 559 beats he former record from March 5th 2007. Data showed that single family home prices in January rose at the fastest pace in six years. Durable manufactured goods also shot up in February. The numbers are boosting investor confidence and loading up on equities.

The rosy US picture is in stark contrast to Europe where the Cyprus crisis and its possible contagion impact on other vulnerable members of the euro zone take central stage. The Cyprus bank bailout inflicts huge losses; up to 40% on deposits above Euro 100 000. Banks are still closed. When they hopefully open tomorrow it would be strict restrictions on currency transactions to avoid a run on the banks.

The second biggest bank, the Popular Bank of Cyprus, has been closed down. Its healthy assets, deposits below Euro 100 000, will be transferred to the Bank of Cyprus in an effort to boost and save the island’s biggest bank. Minister of Finance Michael Sarris stroke a positive tone yesterday when he stressed that the banking transaction restrictions would last only for some weeks. Others are more realistic. Cyprus fears capital flight and a run on their banks. It is likely that big Russian, British and Middle Eastern clients will take their money out as soon as there is a chance.

The handling of the Cyprus crisis also threaten to set a bad precedence. For the first time EU, the European Central Bank, ECB, and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, has confiscated funds on private accounts to finance a bailout. That has violate sacred principles. European politicians have later indicated that this practice would be followed in connection with possible other bailouts inside the Eurozone. This has sent shock waves through the European financial system and threaten banking clients especially in countries like Italy and Spain which might be next in line.

The practical consequence of the Cyprus bailout is that it might have undermined public trust in a banking system ridden by high profile scandals and banker’s speculation and misuse of client funds. The way the EU, ECB and INMF has handled the Cyprus crisis has further increased the divide between north and south in Europe. Southerners are reacting with dismay on what they see as German and EU technocrat arrogance. Confidence in the common currency is thereby also hit. While bankers are saved with generous parachutes the EU and IMF imposed austerity measures have meant unemployment and misery for the people in the southern periphery.

The Euro/USD is under steady downward pressure and trades at 1.2849. Currency analysts are expecting 1.25 in a short two months perspective. Oil prices are up with NYMEX trading above 96 the highest level seen for weeks. Brent crude is above USD 109 a barrel on the better US data. The BRIX countries meeting in Durban in South Africa has decided to establish a new investment bank in support of weaker economies with acute payment problems. It is stressed that this banking establishment is not a substitute, but a complementary to IMF.

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14 March 2013: Retail report boosts DOW to new high

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Surprisingly strong retail sales helped the Dow Jones Industrial to rise for the ninth straight session in a stock rally not seen since 1996. The new record high posted for DOW is 14 455. Also Nasdaq edged higher to 3 245. Trading volume was light with investors consolidating positions after a strong run up in the three first months of the year. Sign of strength in the economy and the Federal Reserve’s (FED) monetary easing have accelerated the advance of US equities, but many investors are asking whether we are in for a technical correction. The retail sales report helped underscore the impression that the economy is gaining momentum.

Asian shares fell for the second day in row with regional factors outweighing the positive sentiments from another Wall Street record close. The MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific was down 0,6%. Australia plunged 1% in spite of positive employment numbers. The Australian dollar reacted positive to the employment news and hit a five-week high. The Japanese Nikkei bucked the negative trend and added 0,4%. Net inflows in Japanese mutual funds reached USD 11 billion in February. A domestic stock rally for the last four months have increased investor’s appetite for Japanese stocks.

Monetary policy direction remains diverse in Asia as countries also watch development in Chinese economy and North Korea closely. Japan wants powerful monetary easing to get out of a vicious deflation spiral harming its economy for two decades. Other central bankers are fearful of inflation. South Korea has been holding the interest rate steady at 2,75% for the last half year.

The Australian dollar jumped to USD 1,0383 after employment soared by 71 000 in February. JPY continues to gain strengthen against USD trading at 96,03 down from its 96,71 peak on Tuesday. Euro/JPY has also retreated from its record high on Tuesday. The brighter forecast for the US economy has negatively affected the Euro trading down to 1,2947. The yield on Italian short and long term bonds increased during yesterday’s auction, the first after the rating agency Fitch downgraded Italy’s credit rating in February. Investor’s attention will today turn to the Spanish bond auction.

Oil prices, gold and silver have dropped since yesterday. NYMEX crude trades at USD 92,28 a barrel. Brent crude is down to 108,40. Gold trades at USD 1586 an ounce. 

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