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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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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04 JUNE 2013: DOLLAR DROPS ON NEW DATA

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The US Dollar suffered a serious setback and dropped to one-month lows against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday after the index on the US- manufacturing fell for the first time in six months. National factory activity sank to the lowest level seen since 2009.

The disappointing data curbed speculation that the Federal Reserve (FED) would scale back its stimulus anytime soon. The dollar index, against a basket of major currencies, DXY, fell one percent as the Japanese Yen strengthened. USD/JPY dipped below 100 for the first time in weeks at 99.70.

Long positions on USD are, therefore, likely to remain under pressure until Friday’s job reports. The unemployment numbers will have to beat the expected forecasts of 165,000 less unemployed significantly, to revive the upside momentum in the USD, analysts say.

The renewed pressure on the dollar saw the Euro/USD above the 1.31 level for the first time since May the 9th. The Euro has fallen back to 1.3063 in the early Asian trading session. USD/JPY fell as low as 98,86 and has lost 4.5 %, 4 % from the high on 103,74 set last month. The dollar’s fall against other currencies, which had lately lost ground against the dollar, was even more dramatic. The Australian dollar rallied more than 2% close to parity with the USD at 99.92.

The US data led to a turnaround in Asian stocks which recovered from their lowest levels in half a year. The Japanese Nikkei has fallen as much as 15% over the last two weeks.The American indexes initially fell on the disappointing manufacturing data, but recovered in a volatile session. Nasdaq turned positive on Intel strength, and Dow Jones gained 0,82 % at 15 239. Oil and gold prices are steady compared to yesterday. Gold is at USD 1411 an ounce and Brent crude trades at USD 101,89 a barrel.

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Gold Rebounds As USD Weakens

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Gold and Silver rebounded strongly yesterday after the onslaught at the end of last week, and in Asia on Monday morning. Both the precious metals fell nearly 5 %. Gold trades at USD 1387 an ounce in Asia, 35 dollars up from the lows 24 hours ago. Silver trades at USD 22,70 rebounding from a low of 21.00 and reached USD 23, at the start of the Asian trading session. The cautious comments from representatives from the US Federal Reserve (FED) regarding the bond-buying stimulus, have weakened the USD.

In a statement on Monday, the President of the Federal Reserve in Chicago followed up last week’s comments from another regional FED president, that the bond-buying program might end abruptly in the autumn if, by then, the FED was sure that the labour market was on solid footing. Earlier, the FED put a 6,5 % unemployment statistic as the critical mark. The last published data showed a 7,6 % unemployment statistic. The aggressive monetary easing policies now also followed by Japan, has given global stock markets a strong boost.
US-stocks ended flat on Monday with indexes hovering near record levels. Concerns about a stop in bond-buying and a correction are influencing markets. Energy stocks and primarily solar companies soared. Dow Jones saw an intraday high at 15 391. S&P reached 1 672. Both indexes are up 17 % since January 1st. Investors are split between nervousness for a strong correction due to the sharpness and length of the rally, and those who are afraid to miss a continued rally.
European shares set a new five-year high for the fourth straight session on Monday, after positive indicators from The United States and Japan pointed to an improving global economic outlook. European blue chip stocks (Financial Times Eurofirst 300 index) was up one percent, which is the highest level seen since mid 2008. The positive US consumer sentiment data from Friday, the highest level seen in almost six years, is seen as especially encouraging. EasyJet and Ryan Air were among the biggest gainers.
The Japanese Yen tumbled yesterday after comments from its Minister of Economy, warning that the currency might have weakened enough. USD/JPY fell to 102 after Friday’s high on 103,22, but has rebounded to 102,22. Oil prices are keeping steady. Brent crude trades at USD 104,83 a barrel. FED Chairman Ben Bernanke’s statement to Congress on Wednesday will be crucial for the further development in currencies and global equity markets.

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09 MAY 2013: STOCKS RALLY AS MAJOR CURRENCIES LOSE DIRECTION

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Global equity markets continue to rally as major currencies have lost a clear direction. Encouraging global data and Wall Street’s extended record rally, took Asian shares to a new two-year peak Thursday morning. Australia presented strong unemployment numbers. While 50 100 new jobs were added in April, the South Korean central bank made a surprise 0,5% interest cut lowering the interest rate to 2,5%. These steps further cemented the positive mood in global markets.

Lower interest rates and central banks increased money printing have created spare liquidity which moves into stocks. The Japanese monetary easing brought the Nikkei index within striking distance of a five-years highs outperforming its global peers. Stocks remain the favored asset class among investors as monetary easing depresses return on bonds. Unclear prospects regarding the world economic growth weigh negatively on commodity prices. Commodities trade without any clear direction with precious metals temporarily falling out of favor with investors.

In contrast to the clear uptrend in global equities major currencies have lost direction. This is the case with Japanese yen, JPY, which depreciated continuously since November last year and depreciated and lost 20 – 25% against most currencies. The last weeks USD/JPY has traded in the interval between 97 – 99 yen a dollar unable to make a major breakthrough and jump above the psychological 100 level.

Investors which made huge profits betting on big cash currency positions earlier this year go into equities which regardless of economic fundamental outlooks are strongly buoyed by monetary easing. As long as central banks keep their accommodative stance the uptrend in stocks would continue. Stocks were also helped by the upbeat US unemployment figures last Friday, Chinese trading data and more promising prospects for the German industry.

In spite of the economic outlook for the Euro zone continues to be dismal, the Euro remains resilient. Euro/USD trades at 1.3160. The economic problems in Europe are indeed serious, but traders have recently burnt their fingers on going short on Euro and stay away. The Euro seems to have discounted eventual bad news, and the balance of payment and real interest rates are no lower than anywhere else. There is no clear conviction among traders as to the timing of Euro weakness. In this financial climate oil prices are keeping up steady. Brent is hovering around USD 104 a barrel. Gold price which fell to USD 1449 on Tuesday, has picked up and trades at 1474.

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08 MAY 2013: ASIAN SHARES RISE ON CHINESE TRADE DATA

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The positive sentiment in global equity markets received a new boost on better than expected Chinese trade data. Asian shares rose to their highest level in two years after China reported a 14,7% export increase in April. Imports were up 16.8% with a trade surplus of USD 18,16 Billion for the month. The Chinese data comes on top of new Wall Street highs with Dow Jones closing above 15 000. In Germany industrial orders showed unexpected strength last week and pulled the Dax index into record territory.

The Australian Reserve Bank became yesterday the last central bank to cut interest rate creating an opening for parity between Australian and US dollars. Share prices are helped by decreased bond returns. The cut in interest rates play into the hands of equities. The Asian Pacific MSCI-index rose 0,8% and reached the highest level since August 2011. Global market sentiments were helped by strong quarterly results by one of the world leading banks, HSBC, and a profit jump for the US Disney. Cut in the labor seems to be the driving force behind HSBC’s result.

The Chinese trading numbers are likely to ease recent concerns about weakness in the recovery in the world second-largest economy. Doubts remain, however, over real demand in China, and the accuracy of their figures. Oil and commodity prices are trading firmer after the Chinese data. A successful bond trade in Portugal supported the upbeat mood and strengthened the Euro. Euro/USD is steady at 1.3080. There is still no breakthrough in USD/JPY which sticks to the 99 yen a dollar level. USD/British sterling, GBP is trading at 1.5479 slightly down from yesterday.

Gold continues to be under pressure. Gold lost one percent during yesterday’s trade. It has recovered to 1455. Gold backed exchange traded funds fell to their weakest level since 2009 indicating that investors money is leaving gold for booming stock markets. This suggests that the super cycle of commodities might be over and that tough times might lie ahead especially for metals. Analysts see that commodity prices in the future probably may be more determined by normal supply and demand balances than by speculative money flows.

Gold traders take an opposite opinion. The present equity boom is driven by low interest rates and central banks money printing. This will create inflationary pressure and challenges for the market system as witnessed by the financial crisis in the autumn of 2008. In such an environment investors will still use gold and precious metals as a hedge. Gold bulls, therefore, stress that a rebound to the USD 1700 level is most likely also in a shorter term perspective.
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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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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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22 April 2013: Gold rebounds; USD/JPY 99,84

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Last week was dominated by an extraordinary fall of USD 250 fall in gold prices and heavy losses in other commodities. Gold demonstrated, however, strong resilience and staged a rebound. Gold is hundred dollar up from the bottom of USD 1322 an ounce last week. Copper is still weak. While Brent crude again trades above USD 100 a barrel. Strong retail buying in Indian and China strengthened gold which was seen as a buying opportunity. Gold reached the USD 1400 mark on Friday and trades at 1422 in Asia. Many investors have kept their strong faith in gold on expectations of high inflation and governments being unable to deal with it, and continues to buy gold.

The G-20 meeting in Washington ended on Friday without any conclusive results. Since 2010 the group has turned from being a cohesive group of the world’s most important economies into a body that spends hours of negotiating the punctuation in a communique. Japan was the focus for attention. In spite of the fact that the Japanese yen, JPY, has depreciated 20% in relation to most currencies since November last year, G-20 accepted Japan’s explanation that its monetary policy is aimed at price stabilization and economic recovery. Its strong monetary easing does not intend to manipulate its exchange rate.

As expected JPY as a result of the meeting, continued to slide in Asia this morning. USD/JPY reached 99,84 and is again licking the symbolic 100 level which most likely is going to be broken during the day encouraged by the Group of 20 endorsing of Japan’s reflationary policies. Following the meeting, players feel comfortable selling the yen further. Asian shares inched higher, but investors remained wary of volatility given the uncertainty of global growth prospects. Global stock markets might be on the verge of a selloff.

The International Monetary Fund, IMF’s forecasts for the G-20 meeting were out of date no sooner than it was presented. Weaker US labor market figures and Chinese economic growth in the first quarter, make it necessary to downgrade growth forecasts for the world economy. The G-20 meeting also given another stark warning that economic forecasts is not any precise science. The Harvard economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart’s have since 2010 postulated that when debt reaches 90% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP, growth automatically fell. This postulate has been the basis for government’s austerity measures especially in the Euro zone.

An Excel error put serious question marks with the evidence the economist have built their postulate on. For the first time in years it thereby is possible to put questions with postulates presented as science. The austerity measures in Europe are as most other economic theories are based on political attitudes. When such postulates end up in mass unemployment and social misery it might be right time to take a break and ask whether the austerity measures resulting in mass unemployment and social misery are the right prescribed medicine. 

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