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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12 JUNE 2013: USD/JPY REBOUNDS AFTER STEEP FALL

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The Dollar steadied against the Yen on Wednesday, suffering its biggest drop in three years yesterday. USD/JPY trades at 96.44, sinking as low as 95.60 in the previous session. The 2.7 % fall marked the biggest one-day drop in the USD/JPY currency since May 2010. The Dollar continued to slip against the Euro at 1.3307. The Dollar index DXY steadied after slumping to a four-month low of 81.034. The weakened Australian Dollar gained 0.4% and trades 0.9469 to a USD.

Bank of Japan (BOJ) disappointed investors hoping for an extension in the maximum duration of its fixed-rate loans, similar to the European Central Bank (ECB) long term financing operation. Such extension would have been aimed at quelling the volatility in the bond market. The market expected such a move. When that did not happen, the Yen sellers had to liquidate short positions. Yen buying was strengthened by exporters shrinking purchases of the Dollar.

The volatility and tumult in the Japanese bond market have raised worries that it could undercut the Abe government and BOJ’s efforts of monetary easing. USD/JPY had, until the recent turnaround, fallen continuously from 80 to 103.65 Yen to a Dollar. The weaker Yen gave Japanese export a welcomed boost, but most of this advantage has been eaten by the stronger Yen experienced in June.

The US and European stock markets tumbled yesterday on nervousness over FED’s monetary easing exit strategy. Dow Jones and Nasdaq fell from 0.76 to 1.06 %. At the General Assembly of Facebook, CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, faced a barrage of questions about the stock price. Facebook’s shares have fallen 37% since its introduction. In Japan, the Nikkei index fell below 13.000 as the strong Yen dragged exporters down.

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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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28 MAY 2013: JAPANESE STOCKS FALL AS YEN SOARS

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The Japanese stock market continued to fall another 3,25 %, after Friday’s dramatic 7,32 % fall. The US dollar simultaneously witnessed its worst week against the JPY in one year, dropping from 103.50 to 101.09 Yen a Dollar on Friday.The Yen traded even lower yesterday, dipping below 101 at one point.

 

Western European equity markets have recovered from the downward shock at the end of last week. The French index jumped 0.97 % during yesterday’s trade, and Germany’s Frankfurt index added another 0.85 %. Nordic equities were strong while the British FYTSE lost 0.64 %. Developing markets also recovered with India jumping 2.47 %.

 

The Australian Dollar continues to fall, and trades just above 96 against the USD, on news that China has no intentions to stimulate growth at the expense of environment. The fall in the Chinese PMI last week had a further negative effect. Australia is dependent on coal export and Chinese growth. For Australia, its alarming that China is said to cut down on coal and encourage gas and solar energy to fight pollution.

 

The Euro/USD is strengthened and close to break through both the 21 and 50 days moving averages, helped by lower yields on Italian and Spanish bonds. The recent sharp downturn in USD/JPY is seen by analysts as a correction after huge amount of speculative Dollars gambled on a lower Yen. The strength of the yen is, however, temporary, and the weakness in the Japanese currency is bound to continue.
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23 MAY 2013: BERNANKE TAKES USD TO NEW HIGHS

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The head of the federal Reserve, FED, Ben Bernanke’s statement to Congress caused markets to fluctuate wildly yesterday. Bernanke’s comments initially had a positive impact on the stock markets when he stated that it would have unpredictable consequences for the US economy if FED’s bond buying program was terminated within the near future.

The bond buying program has boosted the US and global stock markets, but has so far failed to create new employment. FED has earlier stated that the bond buying of USD 800 billion collar will end when the unemployment has reached 6,5 %. It now stands at 7,6 %. This statement was initially seen by markets as a continuation of the bond buying that has boosted global equity markets.

At the same time Bernanke indicated that the termination of the bond buying might be on the immediate cards.. These comments were supported by the minutes from the April/May FED board meeting opening for a termination of the bond buying within the near future. This resulted in a steep fall in US stock indexes. Dow Jones fell from 16 464 down to 15 307 with equal immediate drops in S&P and Nasdaq.

The USD jumped to 103,73 Yen a Dollar. The DXY, a basket of currencies against USD, raised to a record high of 84,27, Euro/USD jumped to 1.2854 as Swiss Franc weakened both towards Dollar and Euro. The Australian dollar trades at its lowest level in a year. Precious metals have fluctuated wildly through the New York session with gold trading between USD 1369 and 1416. Silver reached USD 23,20 to fall back to 22,27. Oil prices remain steady.

Bernanke’s statement boosted global stock markets. Dow Jones immediately increased to a record high of 15 464 with equal jumps in European equities.

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22 MAY 2013: BERNANKE HOLDS THE KEY TO THE STRENGTH OF THE USD

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Global markets traded steadily yesterday building up to the publishing of the Federal Reserve’s minutes from the last BOD meeting in April/May, and Ben Bernanke’s statement to Congress later today. After a small correction on Tuesday, the USD continues to strengthen and is up close to record high against a basket of currencies, DXY.

As proven over the last few weeks, the overall trend in the USD is pointing up towards all currency pairs in spite of a day or two of declines. This trend is supported by three main factors; the forecast for the US is better than for any other economy, Europe is ridden with recession and Japan is concentrating its efforts on increasing the inflation to the 2 % target.

The upswing in the US economy is mainly due to its monetary easing and FED’s loose monetary policies. FED representatives have, over the last few days, indicated that the bond buying program will soon come to an end. If Bernanke “sneezes” today and states the same as his local FED representatives have done, it would mean a further strengthening of the USD.

A weaker Euro and Yen over the last few hours seem to indicate that this is what markets expect. After the Japanese Economy minister talked the Yen up earlier in the week, he seems to have been reprimanded by superiors, and the Yen continues its free fall. The International Monetary Fund, IMF, in a report today, urged Swiss authorities to weaken the Franc by unwinding its currency reserve funds. The Franc has already depreciated 3,7 % towards the Euro in 2013.

Precious metals continue to fluctuate, wildly searching for direction. The large increases in gold and silver throughout Asia and early European trade was quickly eaten by new steep falls. Oil prices keep steady. Smaller than expected English inflation strengthened GBP and gave the markets hopes for loser monetary policies, meaning more money printed by the Bank of England.
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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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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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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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23 April 2013: Asia falls on weaker Chinese PMI

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Asian shares and other riskier assets lost ground on Tuesday after a preliminary reading showed weaker Chinese manufacturing growth in April. HSBC’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, PMI, fell in April and added to concerns about global growth prospects. HSBC’s report is the first economic indicator for the second quarter of 2013. It follows weaker-than-expected first quarter GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth and a contraction in export pointing to fragile global demand.

April PMI-numbers fell to 50,5 from 51.6 in March. The numbers are nevertheless higher than February’s 50,4, and in no way disastrous. The April PMI reinforces, however, market concerns about a stagnating and slowing Chinese economy. Stock market rallies especially in the United States have been based on expectations of a stronger US recovery and Chinese growth. The latest PMI takes some of this belief away and is a strong indication that the stock market rally might be over for now.

Both Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks fell. The Shanghai SSE fell 1,4% and the Japanese Nikkei slipped 0,1% after surging up 2,2 percent on Monday; close to a five-years high. After USD/JPY reached 99,95 on April 11, a breakthrough of the 100 mark has been expected. Instead the USD fell back to 98,60 yen after reaching 99,90 in early trade yesterday. Weak US-housing data weighed in on the strength of the dollar. USD firmed against the Euro trading at 1.3043. Comments from the European Central Bank, ECB, suggest the bank might consider lowering interest rates in light of mass unemployment and low inflation.

Gold has recovered strongly from last week’s tumble trading at USD 1427 an ounce. More gold outflows from exchange-traded funds stress, however, a weakened confidence in the precious metal and possible further drops. While gold is slightly up from Monday, silver is losing ground. Copper prices continue to fall with 0,6% on the London metal exchange. Brent crude stays above USD 100 a barrel, but crude futures are pointing down.

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