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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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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06 JUNE 2013: YEN JUMPS AS WALL STREET FALLS

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

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

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

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

 

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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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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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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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19 April 2013: Volatility reflects bearish mood

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Wall Street fell further yesterday after disappointing forecasts by eBay and other heavy weight US-companies. Present quarterly results raise increased doubt on the market’s recent strength. eBay dropped 5,9%, and Apple shares extended their slide from Wednesday breaking the USD 400 level. The S&P technology index fell 1,4% after two sharp declines earlier in the week. The volatility index, Wall Street’s fear index, gained 6,4 as a reflex of increased market nervousness. Other decliners included Morgan Stanley. The flagship bank fell 5,4% adding to the bearish mood.

As global policymakers started their G-20 meetings in Washington yesterday there is growing concern about currency fluctuations and volatility. Key central banks are printing money and pumping new liquidity into markets. This tends to create more speculative bubbles than working places. The yen (JPY) fell broadly Friday morning after the Japanese Finance Minister stated that Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) aggressive monetary stimulus is aimed at defeating deflation. USD/JPY trades at 98,53 with the dollar raising 0,4%.

As the G20 meeting ends today there are deep worries on what easily can develop into a currency war. In its semi-annual report on currency practices US put Japan on notice. Japan’s economic policies are watched closely to ensure that Japan is not aiming at devaluing the yen to gain competitive advantage. Competitors in South East Asia as South Korea are especially concerned. A rapid raise in dollar versus Yen at these level, seems, however, not likely. USD/JPY has already depreciated 20% since last November. A strong short term gain in USD/JPY might, however, occur after the G-20 meeting is over. G-20 is expected to confirm the pledge from February to avoid competitive currency devaluations.

Euro/USD recovered to 1.3068 after a sharp drop during yesterday. In a meeting on Thursday the EU agreed to move ahead with a system of winding down banks without changing EU law. This would give the EU bank resolution mechanism a stronger legal basis. The resolution comes after a stormy debate in the European Parliament where both the EU Commission and the European Central bank came under heavy fire for their handling of the Cyprus banking crisis. In an interview the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, stated that changes to EU-treaties are more a long term goal than a condition for a banking union to operate.

The recent plunge in gold prices have led to a rally in India and China to buy gold and silver coins and products. Retail buyers see the steep fall in prices as a buying opportunity. Gold trades at USD 1398 up from a bottom level on 1322 earlier in the week. Silver has rebounded from USD 22,76 to 23,46. It is, too, early, to say whether we are witnessing a more firm upward trend; or increasing prices shall be seen as a natural technical correction.

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09 April 2013: Aggressive bond buying sinks JPY

ImageUSD/ JPY dropped for the third straight day as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) yesterday started  its aggressive monetary easing program. Following the strategy of the US Federal Reserve (FED), BOJ is buying Japanese bonds for trillion in an effort to stimulate economic growth.  The Japanese government intends to get out of the vicious inflation  circle and  has set a target for 2 % inflation. The bond buying has boosted the Japanese stock market. US stocks also gained yesterday ahead of second quarter earnings session which is expected to show moderate growth.

 USD rallied to its highest level towards JPY seen since 2009, trading at 99,50 yen as BOJ concluded its first bond purchases since announcing the new monetary easing last week. Wall Street slipped in early trading as caution ahead of the quarterly season dominated the sentiment. Stocks turned around and ended in positive territory.  US stocks have rallied strongly over the last months with major indexes hitting record highs. Earnings forecast are predicting a 1,6 % rise in earnings over the last year.

 The Nikkei index in Tokyo jumped 3.1 % and saw its highest level since 2008 as BOJ shall pump  an equivalent to USD 1,4 trillion into bonds over the next two years. These measures  have created a bonanza in the stock and real estate markets. Traders are waiting for a break through of the psychological  100 yen level a dollar.  US 10 years treasury bills fell sharply last week in response to the aggressive Japanese measures.

 Oil prices hitting a 8 month low on Friday, have recovered.  Brent crude is trading at USD 105,55 a barrel, up one dollar from the beginning of the week. Euro/USD has made a strong come back from its low level on 1.2760 last week in the aftermath of the turbulence in Cyprus and the press conference of the European Central Bank (ECB).  Euro/USD is  trading at 1.3050.  British pound, GBP, and other major currencies have also gained ground against dollar. Precious metals led by gold,  USD 1575 an ounce, is also trading higher.

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12 March 2013: Asian stocks higher on record Wall Street

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Wall Street’s record close overnight bolstered most Asian shares on Tuesday. Growing confidence in the US economy underpinned investors risk appetite. The Japanese yen slipped to fresh lows on speculation over imminent monetary easing. USD/JPY stands at a new low of 96,51. JPY is losing ground also against Euro and Australian dollar. Euro/USD is trading at 1.3027.

The US stock indexes extended its winning streak to seven sessions and touched its highest intraday level since October 2007. Dow Jones closed at a record high 14 447. The MSCI-index for Asia-Pacific also continued up led by financials echoing US trading where finance were the best performing sector. Also Australia, Hong Kong and Shanghai were up as the Japanese Nikkei. The weaker yen is giving exporters a welcomed boost and Nikkei was up for the eight day in row.

The dollar index, DXY, has benefited from last week’s strong labor data, and continues to jump against the yen. Analysts stress that dollar/yen may take a pause in the second quarter when seasonal weaknesses typically slow US economic indicators. They see a possible USD/JPY downside on 92 yen to a dollar with strong technical support around the 90 level. For now the trend is clearly towards a continued weaker yen.

Euro/USD is steady at 1.3030 level. The Euro is under pressure from Italy’s inconclusive last month elections which are weighing in and delaying the country’s fiscal reform efforts. Gold has edged to 1583 marginally up from yesterday. In new York US crude, NYMEX, traded up 0,2% at USD 92,21 a barrel. Brent crude trades up from below 110 to USD 110,20 a barrel.

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