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China growth worries weigh on stocks, boost Treasuries

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Renewed concerns about China's economic growth weighed on global stocks on Tuesday, giving a boost to safe-haven U.S. government bonds and the dollar.

U.S. crude oil prices dropped nearly 2 percent as increased supply from Saudi Arabia and a return to pre-war exports from Libya eased pressure on the market.

Concerns about the scale of China's economic slowdown resurfaced as BHP Billiton , the world's largest miner, said it was seeing signs of "flattening" iron ore demand from the country.

U.S. stock indexes traded more than half a percentage point lower after a rally on Monday drove the S&P 500 to a level less than 10 percent shy of its 2007 all-time high.

"It seems like a market that probably just needs to take a rest, but I wouldn't be surprised (if) we rally into the day," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

"It is now a focus back on the fundamentals on the economy and those news items aren't quite as daunting. It's really just fine tuning."

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:DJI) was down 66.41 points, or 0.50 percent, at 13,172.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 6.54 points, or 0.46 percent, at 1,403.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index (NAS:COMP) was down 20.25 points, or 0.66 percent, at 3,058.07.

The S&P 500 has gained more than 11 percent so far this year as a steady flow of strong U.S. economic data encouraged stock investors. Tuesday's U.S. housing data was mixed, however, with housing starts falling in February, but permits for future construction jumping to the highest level since October 2008.

World stocks measured by the MSCI All-Country World Index <.MIWD00000PUS> dropped 0.76 percent, after closing on Monday near levels last seen in late July.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> fell 0.9 percent as autos and miners were hit by worries of a Chinese economic slowdown.

"Stocks are being driven down on reports of major discounts amongst the luxury good car brands in China and comments about weak iron ore demand," said Richard Batty, strategist at Standard Life Investments, with $248.37 billion of assets under management.

The dollar rose 0.1 percent against a basket of major trading-partner currencies, according to the U.S. Dollar Index <.DXY>, as Chinese economic worries weighed on growth-related currencies.

The euro, however, was stable against the greenback at $1.3233.

U.S. crude oil prices dropped 1.6 percent to $106.78 a barrel, also pressured by the strength of the dollar, which makes the commodity more expensive to non-U.S. investors.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were trading 1/32 higher in price to yield 2.37 percent, down from 2.38 percent late Monday, while 30-year bonds gained 11/32 to yield 3.46 percent, down from 3.48 percent. hitting a 2-1/2 week high of 79.739.

Mar 20, 2012 10:42

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FOREX: Pound Aiming Higher Against Euro, Yen on BOE Minutes Result

The British Pound is likely to rise against the Euro and Japanese Yen if the BOE meeting minutes show fewer calls for additional QE at the March meeting.

Talking Points

 

  • Pound to Rise Against Euro, Yen if BOE Minuets Show Dovish Camp Shrank
  • Dollar May Rise Alongside Stocks as US Existing Home Sales Hit 22-Month High
  • Minneapolis Fed’s Kocherlakota Says Stimulus Unwind May Come in 2012-13

 

Minutes from the March meeting of the Bank of England headline the economic calendar in European hours. The outcome may prove narrowly supportive for the British Pound in that the ultra-dovish voting pattern seen in February is unlikely to be repeated this time around. While it wasn’t surprising to see perennial dove Adam Posen vote for an increase in asset purchases, the addition of David Miles to calls for more stimulus was significant. This produced a 7-2 tally in favor of the status quo but planted expectations of an apparently growing pro-QE insurgency.

In March, Mr Posen may have found himself alone once more as UK economic data broadly performed at its best since May 2010 relative to expectations. If the vote count is revealed at 7-1 or even the unlikely 7-0, traders are likely to reduce bets on further QE over the near term and offer Sterling a boost, with outsized gains expected against the Euro and Japanese Yen (where monetary policy is likely to be least supportive over the coming months). The updated UK Budget is also set to be presented to Parliament. A smaller deficit is likely to reduce bond issuance expectations and lift Gilt yields, encouraging the Pound higher in the process, and vice versa.

On the sentiment front, S&P 500 stock index futures are pushing firmly higher, hinting risk appetite is likely to be well-supported heading into the opening bell on Wall Street as traders await US Existing Home Sales figures, where forecasts point to the highest reading in 22 months at 4.61 million. What this means for the US Dollar is no longer as clear-cut as it has been even recently however. Indeed, as we observed last week, supportive economic news has been able to produce gains for the S&P 500 and the greenback alike, reflecting the recent responsiveness of Fed officials to the apparently firming recovery.

Thegreenbackcorrected lower against its major counterparts in overnight trade as the benchmark currency digested recent gains. USD added 0.5 percent on average yesterday as fears of a slowdown in China and its impact on global output at large stoked safe-haven demand. Hawkish comments from Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota – who served on the rate-setting FOMC in 2011 before rotating out this and who thereby is surely familiar with most inner workings of current policy – likewise helped. Kocherlakota said the Fed may begin to unwind monetary stimulus as soon as this year or in 2013.

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Mar 21, 2012 08:21

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Euro gains versus yen, steady against dollar

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro reached a near five-month high versus the yen and held steady against the dollar on Wednesday as the Greek bailout appeared to progress, prompting some investors to pare back bets against the single currency.

Many analysts said the approval had been seen as a formality but signs the Greek bailout was on track boosted the euro zone common currency.

Further gains could be capped if a stronger dollar trend driven by higher Treasury yields reasserts itself. The euro could run out of steam above $1.33, especially if euro zone purchasing managers surveys on Thursday come in weak.

The euro rose to an almost two-week high of $1.3284, according to Reuters data, after Greece's lawmakers approved the country's second bailout deal, as expected. It was last little changed at $1.3224.

"Greek parliamentary support for the new 130-billion-euro bailout package is encouraging"," said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto. "Tomorrow's PMIs will be important, as recent data has pointed to some stability in several European economies and the PMI will help confirm this, which would be positive for the euro."

Technical analysts said the euro rally was likely to run out of steam around $1.33, just above the 61.8 percent retracement of its late February to mid-March fall.

"There has been an easing in general concerns about euro zone liquidity and the creditworthiness of euro zone banks, plus euro short positions can carry on being unwound," said Adrian Schmidt, currency strategist at Lloyds in London.

He saw potential for the euro to rise towards $1.35 against the dollar, around the top of its recent range, although short-term resistance at $1.3320 may prove too high a hurdle if Thursday's preliminary PMI data comes in weak.

Investors remained wary of the risk of another flare-up in the euro zone debt crisis. Greece got its first batch of bailout payments this week, but the Italian government looked set to clash with unions over employment law reforms.

A firmer dollar, due to fading expectations of more monetary easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve after a modest brightening of its economic outlook, may also hamper the euro.

Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields were last trading around 2.3393 percent, within sight of a near five-month high touched this week.

U.S. housing data, due at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), could boost the dollar if it adds to expectations that growth in the world's largest economy is picking up.

WEAK YEN, UK BUDGET

Rising U.S. yields and monetary easing from the Bank of Japan last month have boosted the dollar, particularly against the yen. The greenback rose 0.4 percent to 84.02 yen, just shy of an 11-month high touched last week.

During the Asian session Japanese exporters were seen selling the dollar ahead of the end of their financial year on March 31, but market players said there was good demand to buy the greenback on dips.

The euro also hit a near five-month peak of 111.43 yen, according to Reuters data, nearing resistance around the peak hit on October 31, when Japanese authorities last intervened in the market. It was last at 111.07, up 0.3 percent.

Mar 21, 2012 12:19

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Japanese Yen Gains as Export Data Outperforms Forecasts

The Japanese Yen rose as the country’s exporting sector performed better than expected, weighing on the likelihood of near-term BOJ currency intervention.

THE TAKEAWAY: Merchandise Trade Balance rose to ¥ 32.9 Billion from -¥ 1476.9 Billion > Traders Bought Yen as the Chance for Further BOJ Inflationary Action in the FX Market Diminished > USDJPY Fell

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Data released by the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Office showed that the merchandise trade balance in February rose to 32.9 billion Yenfrom -1476.9 billion Yen. The figure surpassed the -120 billion Yen deficit that analysts expected. Additionally, trade exports fell only 2.7 percent on the year, beating the 6.5 percent drop forecasted and improving upon the 9.3 percent decline the prior year.

The figures painted a rosier than expected picture of an export-dominated Japanese economy and jumped on bears who forecasted a larger drop in the country’s export sector. Though the data did not go as far as suggesting a warming exports industry, they did show the market that Japanese exporters were not faring as poorly as analysts thought. As exports performed better than expected, the likelihood declined that the Bank of Japan would infuse currency markets with more Yen anytime in the near future. As a result, traders positioned themselves closer to the Yen. In the minutes after the release, USDJPY fell from 83.440 to as low as 83.140.

Mar 22, 2012 00:49

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EUR/USD Classical Technical Report 03.22

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EUR/USD: The market has been well supported on the latest dip towards key support at 1.2975 and the subsequent bounce back above 1.3100 delays bearish prospects and opens the door for additional consolidation over the coming days. The key levels to watch above and below come in by 1.3315 and 1.2975 respectively and a break and close above or below will be required for clearer directional bias. In the interim we remain sidelined.

Mar 22, 2012 00:49

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USD Rises but Mounting Global Risks Keeps FX Pressured

With the U.S. dollar and the Japanese Yen being the best performing currencies this morning, it is clear that mounting risks in the financial markets has raised the level of fear. A series of negative economic reports overnight from China, the Eurozone and the U.K. was compounded by softer data from Canada. Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in January, which a marked an improvement from flat growth in December but was a major a disappointment compared to the market's 1.8 percent forecast. Excluding auto purchases, sales declined by 0.5 percent.

The U.S. only country that continues to print good news. Jobless claims dropped to its lowest level since February 2008. Weekly claims fell 5k to 348k after a downward revision to the prior's week report. The level of jobless claims is consistent with continued job growth in the U.S. economy and as long as claims remain below 375k on a weekly basis, there is no reason for the Fed to be overly concerned. The recovery is still "frustratingly slow" according to Bernanke but currency traders are satisfied that the U.S. economy is improving at all. U.S. leading indicators will be released later this morning and with claims falling and stocks rising, we expect another positive report.

The U.S. dollar is outperforming every major currency except for the Yen because better than expected U.S. data and risk aversion is a win win for the dollar. The string of weaker economic economic data outside of the U.S. has made America look a shining star to investors. Fed President Bullard's comment about the higher risk of inflation this year also helped to lift the greenback.

If bad news begets more bad news abroad, we could see greater demand for dollars. The Chinese government has officially come to terms with slower growth and while their economy may be able to handle it, the Australian and New Zealand economies may not. If Chinese demand pulls back more than it has already, the Reserve Bank of Australia may have to lower interest rates over the next few months and this risk has drive the Australian dollar sharply lower. At the same time, the Eurozone is suffering from weaker domestic and external demand. The sharp decline in the PMI reports flashes signs of a technical recession in the Eurozone. 48 hours ago, we penned a report talking about how the dollar can't lose because even if the U.S. recovery loses momentum, the outlook for other countries is even worse. In Europe, the rise in Italian and Spanish 10 year bond yields raises fresh concerns about the funding capacity of the Eurozone’s #3 and #4 economies. If the EUR/USD will have a very tough time recovering if European bond yields continue to rise.

Mar 22, 2012 00:49

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Australian Dollar Sold as Dovish RBA Cuts Hopes for Future Rate Hike

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks hit their lowest in over a week on Thursday and Wall Street was set open in the red as manufacturing slumps in China and the euro zone fuelled global growth concerns.

The downbeat data triggered flows back into safe-haven assets that boosted German government debt, while it also sent the euro lower and left the common currency looking vulnerable to further losses.

The HSBC flash Purchasing Managers' Index, the earliest indicator of China's industrial activity, fell to 48.1 in March from February's four-month high of 49.6.

The euro zone's leading economies Germany and France both reported an unexpected contraction in manufacturing activity. [nL9E7J203Z], sending Markit's Composite PMI for the region down to 48.7 in March from 49.3 in February.

Anything below 50 is viewed as a contraction.

"When you get numbers like this out of the euro zone it definitely puts the growth outlook into question and points to a mild recession," said Niels Christensen, currency strategist at Nordea in Copenhagen.

"There should be a widening of rate differentials in favor of the dollar, so a lower euro/dollar will be the result".

MSCI's main world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 0.4 percent to its lowest in eight days after hitting its highest level since August earlier in the week.

U.S. stock index futures <.NDc1> pointed to losses of 0.5-0.6 percent at the Wall Street open.

Recent comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve have cut expectations of further quantitative easing, or asset buying. Previous rounds of QE had supported risky assets.

"Everyone was so focused on Greece and the debt crisis is still on everyone's mind, but attention is focusing back on to fundamentals," said DZ Bank rate strategist Michael Leister.

"The PMIs alone don't make for such a big story but they fit into the bigger picture risk-off theme that we're seeing."

European stocks <.FTEU3> weakened for a fourth straight session, heading for their longest negative run in four months. They fell 1 percent to 10-day lows and emerging stocks <.MSCIEF> fell 0.4 percent to two-week lows.

The euro dropped 0.4 percent against the dollar to $1.3162 and 1 percent against the yen to 109.

The dollar lost 0.7 percent to 82.79 yen although it gained 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies <.DXY>.

Brent crude oil was down 0.5 percent at $123.55 a barrel.

Mar 06, 2012 04:09

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Stocks slip on growth worries, bonds rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stocks drifted lower on Friday, pulled down by a decline in U.S. home sales as concerns about global growth cooled enthusiasm.

Commodity prices ticked higher on the belief the prior day's sell-off in risk assets was overdone.

The Commerce Department said sales of new single-family homes slipped 1.6 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted 313,000-unit annual rate. January's sales pace was revised down to 318,000 units from the previously reported 321,000 units.

U.S. government debt prices rose for the fourth day in a row, reversing more of last week's losses, as concerns about the economic picture in China and Europe competed with improved U.S. employment for investors' attention.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 18/32 in price to yield 2.21 percent.

Wall Street opened mixed, but then fell on the U.S. home sales. European and global stock indices were lower.

The belief that equity markets have gained to much in too short a time has dampened investor sentiment. The benchmark S&P 500, on track for its first weekly decline in six weeks, has gained more than 10 percent so far this year and almost 30 percent since its October lows.

"We are all looking for a correction in the markets and that is what we are getting at the moment," said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.

"It's not a deep and serious correction, but we were a bit overbought and we could just move sideways to slightly lower to correct that, and it appears that is what we are doing."

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:DJI) was down 11.24 points, or 0.09 percent, at 13,034.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (MXP:SPX) was down 1.68 points, or 0.12 percent, at 1,391.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index (NAS:COMP) was down 13.33 points, or 0.44 percent, at 3,049.99.

The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> was off 0.1 percent, while a measure of top European stocks <.FTEU3> lost 0.8 percent and emerging markets <.MSCIEF> fell 0.5 percent.

The dollar has been supported by an improving U.S. economic landscape that contrasts with the euro zone, where most economies are either teetering on the brink of or in recession.

The euro was up 0.37 percent at $1.3245, and the U.S. Dollar Index <.DXY> down 0.36 percent at 79.448.

The relationship between risk appetite and the dollar has become more complicated, according to Chris Fernandes, vice president, senior foreign exchange adviser for the capital markets division at Bank of the West in San Ramon, California.

"Whereas in the past the dollar would tend to fall as risk appetite was rising, the dollar is now benefiting from pro-risk developments, as U.S. economic data has generally bested expectations recently," he said.

Brent oil was up $1.84 at $124.98 a barrel, underpinned by worries that military conflict with Iran will hit supplies and create an oil price spike.

U.S. light sweet crude oil rose $1.30 to $106.65 a barrel. The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index <.CRB> of leading commodity prices was up 0.6 percent at 314.04.

Mar 23, 2012 10:29

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Euro up versus dollar, yen as Bernanke fans QE hopes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro advanced against the dollar and the yen on Monday as weaker-than-expected U.S. data and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's cautious comments on the job market spurred hopes for more easing ahead, boosting riskier assets.

The single currency hit a better than three-week high against the greenback and jumped more than 1 percent against the yen.

Bernanke's warning that the U.S. economy needs to grow faster to get the unemployment rate down boosted hopes early in the session that the bank could yet conduct another round of quantitative easing.

Disappointing home sales data reinforced that outlook later on Monday, with contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly falling in February.

"All this left the market with the nagging thought that the Fed is not quite done with economic stimulus," said Boris Schlossberg, director of FX Research at GFT in Jersey City, New Jersey. "I think they have not in any way, shape or form eliminated that possibility."

News from Europe also helped the single currency, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel giving veiled approval to an expected increase in the region's financial firewall this week, with finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen on March 30-31.

The euro advanced 0.41 percent to $1.3325 on Monday and touched its highest since March 1. Against the yen the single currency jumped as high as 110.54 yen before more recently trading at 110.37 yen, up 1.01 percent.

The dollar also slid against the Swiss franc, off 0.39 percent to 0.9042 francs.

Still, analysts said the region's debt crisis is far from over. A number of events this week could help clarify how well policymakers are managing those problems, including bond auctions in Italy and Spain's budget on Friday. Italy is seeking to raise up to 7.5 billion euros amid renewed pressure on peripheral euro zone debt.

Worries are also growing about Spain after a government setback in regional elections, making Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's task of pushing through harsh spending cuts more difficult.

"Really we've made a big stride but we haven't actually solved the problems" in the euro zone, said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital. The euro could see recurring bouts of selling through the year as those worries persist, she added.

DOLLAR FIRMER AGAINST YEN

The dollar advanced against the Japanese currency, gaining 0.62 percent to 82.82 yen.

Traders said they would prefer to buy the dollar and sell the yen, with repatriation inflows ahead of the Japanese fiscal year-end on March 31 unlikely to change the bearish sentiment toward the Japanese currency over the medium term.

"We are expecting the dollar/yen pair to trade in a 80-85 yen range with a risk of an upside break. A lot will depend on whether the economies outside the U.S. also pick up," said Paul Robson, currency strategist at RBS Global Banking.

"As long as the U.S. economy shows signs of outperforming the others, the dollar would be supported."

The growth-linked Australian dollar was up 0.64 percent at $1.0525 after a fall last week.

Mar 22, 2012 00:49

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Dollar falls against euro after Bernanke comments

Dollar falls against euro after Bernanke says US job market is still weak

NEW YORK (AP) -- The dollar fell sharply against the euro Monday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the U.S. job market is still weak despite recent signs that it is improving.

Traders interpreted Bernanke's comments to mean that the Fed will keep interest rates near zero. Lower interest rates tend to weigh on a currency by reducing the returns investors get from holding it.

Bernanke's comments were made during a speech at the National Association for Business Economics.

The euro rose to $1.3333 in afternoon trading from $1.3263 late Friday.

The central bank has kept interest rates near zero since cutting them during the financial crisis in December 2008. The Fed keeps rates low in order to help the economy recover.

Despite improvements in the job market, Bernanke said that he doesn't expect the unemployment rate to keep falling. Employers added an average of 245,000 jobs a month from December through February. And the unemployment rate was at 8.3 percent in February, down from 9 percent during the same month a year ago.

In other trading, the British pound rose to $1.5926 from $1.5871. The dollar fell to 0.9034 Swiss franc from 0.9086 Swiss franc and to 99.22 Canadian cents from 99.85 Canadian cents.

The dollar rose to 82.77 Japanese yen from 82.49 yen.

Mar 26, 2012 15:49

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Euro gains versus dollar, yen; Bernanke triggers new quantitative easing talk

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro advanced against the dollar and yen for a second straight day on Monday as weaker-than-expected U.S. data and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's cautious comments on the job market spurred expectations for more policy easing.

The single currency hit a better than three-week high against the greenback and jumped more than 1 percent against the yen. Still, analysts said the euro zone's debt crisis was far from over and the currency could come under pressure this week.

Bernanke's warning that the U.S. economy needs to grow faster to get unemployment down led investors to take on more risk on hopes the central bank could conduct another round of quantitative easing.

Disappointing home sales data reinforced that outlook later on Monday, with contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly falling in February.

"All this left the market with the nagging thought that the Fed is not quite done with economic stimulus," said Boris Schlossberg, director of FX Research at GFT in Jersey City, New Jersey. "I think they have not in any way, shape or form eliminated that possibility."

News from Europe also helped the single currency, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel giving veiled approval to an expected increase in the region's financial firewall this week, with finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen on March 30-31.

The euro advanced 0.5 percent to $1.3331 on Monday and touched its highest since March 1. Against the yen the single currency jumped as high as 110.54 yen before more recently trading at 110.44 yen, up 1.1 percent.

The dollar also slid against the Swiss franc, off 0.5 percent to 0.9035 francs. The dollar's session trough against the Swiss franc was the lowest since March 2, according to Reuters data

A number of events this week could help clarify how well policymakers are managing problems in the euro zone. They include bond auctions in Italy and Spain's budget on Friday. Italy hopes to raise up to 7.5 billion euros amid renewed pressure on peripheral euro zone debt.

Worries are also growing about Spain after a government setback in regional elections, making Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's task of pushing through harsh spending cuts more difficult.

"Really we've made a big stride but we haven't actually solved the problems" in the euro zone, said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital. The euro could see recurring bouts of selling through the year as those worries persist, she added.

DOLLAR FIRMER AGAINST YEN

The dollar advanced against the Japanese currency, gaining 0.6 percent to 82.81 yen.

Traders said they would prefer to buy the dollar and sell the yen, with repatriation inflows ahead of the Japanese fiscal year-end on March 31 unlikely to change the bearish sentiment toward the Japanese currency over the medium term.

"We are expecting the dollar/yen pair to trade in a 80-85 yen range with a risk of an upside break. A lot will depend on whether the economies outside the U.S. also pick up," said Paul Robson, currency strategist at RBS Global Banking.

"As long as the U.S. economy shows signs of outperforming the others, the dollar would be supported."

The growth-linked Australian dollar was up 0.5 percent at $1.0514, recouping some of last week's 1.2 percent decline.

Mar 26, 2012 18:35

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OECD pushes for $1.3 trillion eurozone crisis fund

OECD head urges euro countries to boost crisis fund to $1.3 trillion-plus to aid growth

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The 17 countries that use the euro need to build a €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) firewall to help the struggling currency union return to growth, the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday.

Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Paris-based international development body, said existing plans for a €500 billion ($664 billion) European rescue fund were not enough to restore market confidence in the eurozone.

"The mother of all firewalls should be in place," Gurria he told a news conference in Brussels, where he was flanked by Olli Rehn, the EU's economic affairs commissioner, who has also been pushing for a larger bailout fund.

A permanent bailout fund of at least €1 trillion would give governments the breathing space to focus on kickstarting growth and restoring the competitiveness of their economies, Gurria added.

As well as shoring up the financial defenses, the OECD chief pointed to a raft of economic reforms that individual countries should enact. According to the organization's annual report for the eurozone, which was released Tuesday, vulnerable states may need more than €1 trillion in aid over the coming two years and Gurria said eurozone finance ministers should take a decision to boost their bailout funds at their meeting in Copenhagen on Friday.

Germany, the bloc's largest economy, signaled on Monday that it would support an increase to around €700 billion ($929 billion), but only until some €200 billion in loans already promised to Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been paid back.

That falls below the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, the European Union's executive. Both organizations believe a much bigger firewall will keep a lid on the pressure on Italy and Spain, the eurozone's third- and fourth-largest economies, which have a combined debt load of more than €2.5 trillion.

"I am of the view that when you are dealing with markets you should overshoot," Gurria said.

Germany's proposal may also not be enough to convince other large non-euro economies, such as China and the U.S., to give the IMF more resources, money that could be used to further protect Europe.

Asked about the chances that Gurria's €1 trillion goal could actually be achieved on Friday, Rehn declined to give a clear answer.

"I am confident that we can reach a convincing decision," he said, adding that discussions between euro states were still ongoing.

Countries like Germany fear that easy access to financial support could stop countries from implementing reforms. They also point to the recent stabilization in financial markets. Credit for that has been given to the European Central Bank, which has pumped more than €1 trillion in cheap long-term loans into European banks.

The OECD's Gurria warned of the perils of overconfidence.

"We can still clearly not draw too much comfort from these signs of healing," he said, noting that there had been other brief moments of respite in Europe's two-year-old debt crisis.

He warned that funding costs in several euro countries remain unsustainable, and — in what appeared to be a clear reference to Spain — have been creeping up again in recent weeks.

Gurria also suggested that the ECB could intervene more aggressively in the bond markets of struggling countries if market pressures resurface — a step that the central bank has been reluctant to take so far.

Mar 27, 2012 08:56

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Stocks hit 8-month high, dollar bounces back

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stocks touched an eight-month high on Tuesday, while the dollar rebounded from the previous day's losses a day after the Federal Reserve signaled it would continue its loose monetary policy.

The U.S. dollar strengthened against the euro and the yen after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's dovish comments sent it tumbling in the previous session.

U.S. stocks were little changed after a more than 1 percent rally lifted the S&P 500 to a four-year high on Monday.

"Bernanke yesterday talked about the need for aggressive monetary policy and the dollar took a pretty good whack, so it's probably clawing some of that back," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

Bernanke said Monday accommodative monetary policy would stay in place to support demand and, over time, drive down long-term unemployment. He stopped short of signaling the start of a new round of asset purchases by the Fed.

The S&P 500 is on track to close its best quarter since 2009 and its fourth straight month of gains. MSCI's main global stock index (.MIWD00000PUS) was up 0.2 percent after hitting its highest level since August 1.

"Last week markets tried to price in a global economic slowdown but we're now seeing a slowdown, but not one that is unexpected," Hogan said. "We still believe there's a soft landing in China, Europe has stabilized and the U.S. continues to chug along at a sustainable rate."

In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:^DJI - News) dipped 4.80 points, or 0.04 percent, to 13,236.83. The S&P 500 Index (.INX) shed 0.14 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,416.37. The Nasdaq Composite (NAS:^COMP) gained 4.30 points, or 0.14 percent, to 3,126.87.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (FSI:^E3X) fell 0.5 percent, while U.S. dollar-denominated Nikkei futures jumped 1.2 percent.

A private sector report showed U.S. consumer confidence dipped in March but was nearly in line with forecasts, while inflation expectations rose to the highest in 10 months.

U.S. Treasuries prices added slight gains after the data, with the 10-year yield again below its 200-day average and at its lowest in two weeks.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 13/32, with the yield at 2.2068 percent.

Lower yields contributed to record-setting dollar amounts of U.S. corporate note and bond sales this quarter.

With four days left, data from Thomson Reuters unit IFR show $274.5 billion were priced in investment grade deals, eclipsing the previous record for a first quarter of $272.3 billion in 2007 -before the credit crisis.

This is the best quarter ever for high yield deals. At $88 billion, the amount beats the previous record of $85.3 billion set in the last quarter of 2010.

Mar 27, 2012 15:36

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Dollar gains, snapping two day drop versus euro

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar gained against the euro on Tuesday, snapping two straight sessions of losses as data tempered concerns of more stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

The greenback's rally came a day after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke raised expectations that the Fed could yet embark on a third round of quantitative easing.

On Monday, Bernanke said "further significant improvements in the unemployment rate will likely require a more rapid expansion of production and demand from consumers and businesses, a process that can be supported by continued accommodative policies." He made those comments to the National Association for Business Economics.

Until markets have more clarity on the Fed's plans, though, trading could stay constrained, analysts said.

"From our perspective, people are misinterpreting the Bernanke speech," said Mark McCormick, a G10 currency strategist with Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

"I think people have taken it as sign of quantitative easing coming down the line, but I think that exaggerates the key takeaway," he added, with Bernanke not necessarily signaling more QE.

The euro slid 0.2 percent to $1.3334 in New York on Tuesday.

A U.S. report showed home prices were unchanged in January from December, the first time since July the seasonally adjusted S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index has not declined and a sign that the battered housing market is slowly stabilizing.

A report from industry group The Conference Board showed the index of consumer attitudes eased to 70.2 from an upwardly revised 71.6 the month before, roughly in line with economists' expectations for 70.3.

The details of the report were mixed as consumer expectations fell, but their assessment of their current situation rose to the highest level since September 2008.

"The economy is doing a lot better than many people thought, and the market is going to run with that, but the Fed will not stand around while U.S. yields back up significantly," said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon in London.

"There will be a cat-and-mouse game between the market and Bernanke. I think the dollar will be in a range for some time."

The euro zone's sovereign debt crisis could still weigh on the single currency, as well.

While Germany signaled for the first time on Monday its willingness to increase the resources available for tackling the euro-zone debt crisis, several key events remain this week.

Those include a meeting of euro-zone finance ministers in Copenhagen on Friday and Saturday and Spain's budget presentation on Friday.

The meeting of finance ministers "could result in some near- term volatility," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst with Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, D.C. "It's hard to push the euro up further from these levels without some catalyst."

YEN STEADIES AFTER DROP

Traders and analysts said moves in U.S. Treasuries would be key for the dollar. If demand for Treasuries gained steam and bond yields fell in the wake of Bernanke's comments, the dollar could face more pressure.

The greenback was up 0.4 percent against the yen at 83.15 yen, though below a recent 11-month high. Against Japan's yen, the single currency rose 0.2 percent to 110.86 yen.

The Japanese currency was seen as vulnerable to more selling, and has been under heavy pressure since Japan announced monetary easing measures last month.

With the fiscal year ending on March 31, which is Saturday, expected repatriation flows have done little to support the yen so far, said Joe Manimbo, a market analyst with Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, D.C.

"That suggests next week the yen could come under pressure, since it didn't benefit from expected month- and year-end flows," he added.

Mar 27, 2012 17:22

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Gold slips 1 percent as dollar strengthens

LONDON (Reuters) - Gold prices slid more than 1 percent on Thursday as a break higher in the dollar and a drop in oil prices pushed gold through key support near the $1,655 an ounce level, prompting further liquidation.

Spot gold was down 0.6 percent at $1,652.84 an ounce at 1508 GMT, off a low as $1,647.29 an ounce. The metal is on track for a third session of losses after a rally early in the week, sparked by Federal Reserve hints that accommodative monetary policy is set to persist, petered out.

"We have a forecast for an average price for the year of $1,450, so we are not surprised that gold prices are struggling to go higher," Nic Brown, head of commodity research at Natixis, said. "We think as time goes on the likelihood is that prices will probably soften further."

Gains in the dollar exerted strong pressure on gold. The euro fell against the U.S. unit as concerns about contagion from the euro zone debt crisis resurfaced ahead of Spain's budget on Friday. A stronger dollar tends to weigh on gold, which is priced in the U.S. currency. (FRX/)

Oil prices fell nearly $2 a barrel, European shares slipped and safe-haven German bunds inched higher, suggesting little appetite for assets seen as higher risk. A broadly successful sale of Italian bonds did little to soothe worries over the euro zone crisis.(GVD/EUR)

Gold is likely to need significant fresh support from a move in the wider financial markets, as well as a drop in the dollar, to push it to fresh highs, analysts said.

"We have suspected that it would take much more than a pure dollar correction for sustained gains to $1,700 and beyond, especially now that bullion is strongly correlated to the broader equity market, and risk sentiment in general," VTB Capital said in a note.

"It comes as little surprise, with the VIX volatility index - the global risk gauge - rallying to 2.5-week highs, that gold followed other precious metals with the broader market back in risk averse mode."

SUBSTANTIAL SUPPORT

Physical demand for gold among key Asian buyers was mixed.

"In the near-term there is substantial support still coming out of China. Until Chinese investors have a solid alternative to precious metal, it's likely that demand coming out of China will remain very strong," said Natixis' Brown.

But gold demand from India, the world's biggest buyer of the yellow metal, remains muted as jewelers' protests entered their thirteenth day, dealers said.

"If you see a significant decline in Indian demand for gold, that is a major negative for the gold market," Brown said.

U.S. gold futures for June delivery were down $5.30 an ounce at $1,655.20.

Swiss bank UBS cut its 2012 gold price forecast to $1,680 an ounce from $2,050 previously, which it said partly reflects the metal's performance in the first quarter.

"The view that the U.S. economic recovery is looking more sustainable is becoming increasingly accepted," it said. "As acute macro stresses abate, investors are looking at other asset classes and to the growth story once again. Gold is moving off the

centre-stage position it occupied for most of last year."

Nonetheless, the threat of a fresh downturn in the U.S. economy and of further credit stress, as well as ongoing official sector buying, higher oil prices and the low interest rate environment, will still underpin gold, it added.

Silver was down 0.7 percent at $31.78 an ounce. The gold/silver ratio, or the number of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold, rose back towards 52, near a two-month high.

Spot platinum was down 0.3 percent at $1,625.70 an ounce, while palladium was down 0.1 percent at $641.97.

Mar 29, 2012 15:17

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Euro slides versus dollar, yen on European manufacturing

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The euro slid against the dollar and yen on Monday as weak European manufacturing data prompted investors to compare the outlook for the euro zone with the improving economy.

The euro remained vulnerable to renewed bouts of selling after the regional manufacturing survey, analysts said, as investors took a cautious view of prospects for the global economy even after strong Chinese factory data.

A report on business activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector came in above the consensus forecast further contrasting the U.S. against the euro zone.

"PMIs out of Europe are another reminder of the extent economies have gone down," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst with Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington, D.C. "Strong U.S. data this week is likely to see the dollar strengthen on rising yield appeal."

The euro fell 0.3 percent against the dollar to $1.3311, though still within a cent of the recent one-month high of $1.3385, according to Reuters data. Analysts said that peak will provide resistance after the euro has repeatedly failed to breach it.

Traders said negative sentiment towards euro zone assets arose on reports the Bundesbank would not accept the bonds of several countries, including Portugal, as collateral. Germany's central bank later denied the reports.

"There's an increasing risk of a more prolonged recession in Europe and economic fundamentals argue in favor of a further downward adjustment in the euro," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at BTM-UFJ in London.

YEN GAINS

The low-yielding yen, which tends to fall when risk appetite increases, recouped earlier losses, with the dollar down 0.9 percent at 82.09 yen and the euro down 1.1 percent at 109.26 yen.

"It seems like investors remain cautious with service sector data from China still to come this week and nothing to indicate an imminent policy response from the Chinese to the slowdown in their economy," said Valentin Marinov, head of European G10 currency strategy at Citi in London.

"It's a week ahead of the long weekend with thin liquidity, making investors reluctant to express strong views and which limits the scope for meaningful returns ahead of Easter."

The Japanese currency was undermined by a weaker-than-expected reading of the Tankan survey of sentiment at big Japanese manufacturers, which put the spotlight on whether the Bank of Japan will ease monetary policy further as early as next week.

The Australian dollar was up around 0.8 percent for the day at $1.0416, though off a high of $1.0449 touched earlier in the global session.

The currency tends to benefit from any signs of improvement in the Chinese economy due to Australia's strong trade links with the country. But many analysts have recently expressed concerns it is overvalued.

"The Chinese recovery is modest ... We like to sell Aussie on any rally," said George Saravelos, G10 currency strategist at Deutsche Bank in London.

Apr 02, 2012 16:03

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A look at the unemployment rates in the eurozone

A glance at the various rates of unemployment across the 17-nation eurozone

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, estimates that unemployment across the 17-country eurozone rose to 10.8 percent in February, a new record since the euro launched in 1999.

Here's how the countries compare:

Spain 23.6 percent

Greece 21.0 percent+

Portugal 15.0 percent

Ireland 14.7 percent

Slovakia 14.0 percent

Estonia 11.7 percent+

France 10.0 percent

Cyprus 9.7 percent

Italy 9.3 percent

Slovenia 8.7 percent

Finland 7.4 percent

Belgium 7.2 percent

Malta 6.8 percent

Germany 5.7 percent

Luxembourg 5.2 percent

Netherlands 4.9 percent

Austria 4.2 percent

Apr 02, 2012 16:40

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OctaFX.Com - IMF chief against any breakup of Eurozone

IMF managing director does not want to see weaker European countries split from Eurozone

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The managing director of the International Monetary Fund says her global lending organization wants the Eurozone to stay together, not be broken up by the departure of some of its weaker nations.

Christine Lagarde told the annual meeting of The Associated Press that the IMF has no agenda "to breakup that zone."

There has been talk that Greece, one of the 17 nations that use the euro, might at some point leave. Lagarde was asked if such countries, even Spain and Italy, might be better off outside the zone.

"To your question, I think the answer is no," she said.

Apr 03, 2012 16:07

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OctaFX.Com -Dollar dips versus euro ahead of Fed minutes, ECB

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar slipped against the euro ahead of the release of U.S. Federal Reserve meeting minutes on Tuesday, though investors were reluctant to make big bets a day ahead of the European Central Bank meeting.

At least for the next few hours, the market focus in pre-Easter trade remains the Fed's meeting minutes from March which may provide clues on U.S. policymakers' inclination to take further steps to ease policy, which would weigh on the dollar.

For now, the minutes are expected to suggest a standby approach, with the Fed likely to warn that premature tightening would be risky, while keeping an open-minded, but uncommitted view on further easing.

Fed officials on Monday signaled little appetite for further monetary steps to stimulate U.S. growth in an economy that is gradually strengthening. However, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that more stimulus would remain an option.

The ECB policy meeting is on Wednesday with analysts saying a hawkish message from the bank on the need to get back to concentrating on quelling inflation instead of helping Europe's economy and financial system out of crisis may give the euro a brief boost.

"We get a peek at the Fed minutes but (are) not expecting any surprises there," said John Doyle, currency strategist at Tempus Consulting in Washington. "After that we are holding for the Europeans."

The euro was last trading up 0.1 percent at $1.3337, with the session low at $1.3298 and the session peak at $1.3367.

Analysts said the gains in the shared currency came after investors failed to push the unit below $1.3300 and hold it there, forcing anyone betting against the euro

to step back in to buy to prevent further losses.

ON HOLD

To be sure, many investors are still looking to sell the euro as concerns grew about a fragile outlook for the euro zone and high debt levels in Spain. Italian and Spanish debt yields rose on Tuesday amid concerns about the euro zone's ability to keep budget deficits under control.

Spain's public debt ratio is expected to hit 79.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, a document detailing the country's 2012 budget showed on Tuesday.

Since the euro's mid- to late-March rally from $1.3000 to just below $1.34 fizzled out, the currency has stayed in a relatively tight $1.3250-$1.3400 range. Many analysts expect it to move lower if it breaks below that area.

The euro was last little changed against the Swiss franc at 1.2031 francs, but still near a two-month low as traders pushed the shared currency closer to the 1.20 franc floor set by the Swiss National Bank last year.

YEN SWINGS

Against the yen, the dollar was last up 0.1 percent at 82.18 yen, recovering from a drop to a low at 81.54 yen, its weakest since March 9.

Analysts said the broader trend for the yen to weaken remains intact following the Bank of Japan's unexpected easing of monetary policy in February. Speculation that the Fed could tighten its own policy faster than previously expected - and raise the return for holding dollars - have also weighed on the Japanese currency.

"People have been buying into the idea that the yen could weaken and perhaps we have seen the strongest period for the yen," said Dag Muller, technical analyst at SEB in Stockholm. "But in the near term, the yen could succumb to more of a correction from short-term exaggerated levels."

The Australian dollar was down 0.4 percent at US$1.0366, cutting earlier gains, after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates unchanged at 4.25 percent and suggested a bias toward easing.

Apr 03, 2012 16:19

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OctaFX.Com -Dollar rises against euro ahead of Fed minutes

Dollar rises against euro as traders await Federal Reserve minutes of March meeting

NEW YORK (AP) -- The dollar is rising against the euro before the release of the Federal Reserve's minutes from its March meeting.Traders are waiting to see whether the Fed is optimistic about the economy.

The Fed said in a statement after the meeting that it expects the job market to improve. The statement boosted the dollar.

But last week, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that the job market is still weak, pushing the dollar lower against the euro. Traders had interpreted the comments to mean that the Fed will keep short-term interest rates near zero. Lower interest rates tend to weigh on a currency by reducing the returns investors get from holding it.

Apr 03, 2012 16:43

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OctaFX.Com - The Basics Of Currency Trading

The investment markets can quickly take the money of investors who believe that trading is easy. Trading in any investment market is exceedingly difficult, but success first comes with education and practice. So, what is currency trading and is it right for you?

SEE: Top 7 Questions About Currency Trading Answered.

The currency market, or forex (FX), is the largest investment market in the world. Each day, it accounts for roughly $1.5 trillion of daily trading compared to only $25 billion of daily volume on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The market may be large, but until recently the volume came from professional traders, but as currency trading platforms have improved more retail traders have found forex to be suitable for their investment goals.

How Does It Work?

Currency trading is a 24-hour market that is only closed from Friday evening to Sunday evening, but the 24-hour trading sessions are misleading. There are three sessions that include the European, Asian and United States trading sessions. Although there is some overlap in the sessions, the main currencies in each market are traded mostly during those market hours. This means that certain currency pairs will have more volume during certain sessions. Traders who stay with pairs based on the dollar will find the most volume in the U.S. trading session.

Currency is traded in various sized lots. The micro lot is 1,000 units of a currency. If your account is funded in U.S. dollars, a micro lot represents $1,000 of your base currency, the dollar. A mini lot is 10,000 units of your base currency and a standard lot is 100,000 units.

Pairs and Pips

All currency trading is done in pairs. Unlike the stock market, where you can buy or sell a single stock, you have to buy one currency and sell another currency in the forex market. Next, nearly all currencies are priced out to the fourth decimal point. A pip or percentage in point, is the smallest increment of trade. One pip typically equals 1/100 of 1%.

Retail or beginning traders often trade currency in micro lots, because one pip in a micro lot represents only a 10 cents move in the price. This makes losses easier to manage if a trade doesn't produce the intended results. In a mini lot, one pip equals $1 and that same one pip in a standard lot equals $10. Some currencies move as much as 100 pips or more in a single trading session making the potential losses to the small investor much more manageable by trading in micro or mini lots.

Far Less Products

The majority of the volume in currency trading is confined to only 18 currency pairs compared to the thousands of stocks that are available in the global equity markets. Although there are other traded pairs outside of the 18, the eight currencies most often traded are the U.S. dollar (USD), Canadian dollar (CAD), euro (EUR), British pound (GBP), Swiss franc (CHF), New Zealand dollar (NZD), Australian dollar (AUD) and the Japanese yen (JPY). Although nobody would say that currency trading is easy, having far less trading options makes trade and portfolio management an easier task.

What Moves Currency?

An increasing amount of stock traders are taking interest in the currency markets because many of the forces that move the stock market also move the currency market. One of the largest is supply and demand. When the world needs more dollars, the value of the dollar increases and when there are too many circulating, the price drops.

Other factors like interest rates, new economic data from the largest countries and geopolitical tensions, are just a few of the events that may affect currency prices.

The Bottom Line

Much like anything in the investing market, learning about currency trading is easy but finding the winning trading strategies takes a lot of practice. Most forex brokers will allow you to open a free virtual account that allows you to trade with virtual money until you find strategies that work for you.

Apr 05, 2012 15:43

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OctaFX.Com - Dollar rises to 3-week high against euro

Dollar rises to 3-week high against euro on fears about Europe's debt crisis

NEW YORK (AP) -- Growing fears about Europe's debt crisis pushed the dollar to a three-week high against the euro Thursday. The euro also fell against the Swiss franc, dropping below a ceiling set by the Swiss National Bank last year.

The yield on Spain's benchmark 10-year bond jumped to 5.74 percent Thursday, its highest point since November. A month ago, the rate was below 4.9 percent. Rising yields are a sign that investors are less confident in the country's finances.

The higher the yield on a country's bonds, the more expensive it becomes to borrow money. Greece, Portugal and Ireland needed a bailout after their borrowing rates rose above 7 percent.

Concerns about Spain's finances rose this week after weak demand at its bond auction Wednesday.

The euro fell to $1.3057 in afternoon trading Thursday from $1.3139 late Wednesday. The euro fell as low as $1.3034, its lowest point since March 15.

The Swiss franc briefly rose against the euro Thursday above the 1.20 level that the Swiss National Bank capped it at in September. The Swiss franc is considered a safe-haven currency and tends to rise when traders are worried about the global economy. Last year, the Swiss franc rose so much that the SNB said it would spend whatever it would take to stop the euro from falling below 1.20 francs. On Thursday, it fell to 1.1993 francs before quickly moved recovering.

The SNB wants to limit the franc's strength to protect Swiss companies. Last year, exporters were hurt as the value of the franc increased. A strong franc hurts exporters by making their goods more expensive for foreign buyers.

In other trading, the dollar rose to 0.9206 Swiss franc from 0.9161 Swiss franc. The British pound fell to $1.5820 from $1.5889.

The dollar fell to 82.35 Japanese yen from 82.58 yen and to 99.37 Canadian cents from 99.64 Canadian cents.

Apr 05, 2012 15:46

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OctaFX.Com -Euro dips, bonds rise on euro zone worries

NEW YORK (Reuters) -

The euro hit a three-week low against the dollar and bonds edged higher on Thursday as Spain's debt burden fueled worries about further problems for euro zone economies and curtailed investors' appetite for riskier assets.

Global stocks dipped, while energy and gold prices climbed.

A poor Spanish bond auction on Wednesday added to worries that the impact of the European Central Bank's one trillion euro injection of cheap three-year funds into the banking system may be coming to an abrupt halt.

Spanish 10-year government bond yields rose as high as 5.86 percent on Thursday, dragging Italian rates in their wake as investors fled to the relative safety of German and U.S. debt.

The moves follow two days of losses in stocks and other markets following the release Tuesday of minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which suggested the Fed was less keen to launch further economic stimulus.

"The whole European situation seems to be reheating ... and there is more safe-haven type buying," said Sean Murphy, a Treasuries trader at Societe Generale in New York.

The worries added a safety bid for bonds, with the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note up 13/32, with the yield at 2.1752 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro was down 0.7 percent at$1.3052, having hit a three-week low of $1.3038. It also hit its lowest in four weeks against the yen at 106.86 yen before recovering slightly to trade at 107.23 yen, down 1 percent.

Spain's cost of borrowing on markets over 10 years jumped 30 basis points on Wednesday after borrowing costs rose at its bond auction. The yield premium over German benchmarks is now 411 basis points, its highest since late November before the ECB flooded the market with three-year funds.

STOCKS DIP, COMMODITIES GAIN

The MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS) was last down 0.2 percent, while U.S. stocks were also slightly lower.

Traders cautioned that some of the moves may be exaggerated by thin trading ahead of an extended Easter weekend, and while global stock markets lost more than 1 percent of their value on Wednesday, they remain up almost 10 percent this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:^DJI - News) was down 45.75 points, or 0.35 percent, at 13,029.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (MXP:^GSPC - News) was down 3.54 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,395.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index (NAS:^COMP) was up 6.84 points, or 0.22 percent, at 3,074.93.

For U.S. stocks, offsetting some concern about the euro zone was data showing the number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell to the lowest in nearly four years last week.

Analysts said the claims data and a report on private-sector jobs earlier this week may bode well for the U.S. government's widely watched monthly employment report, which is due Friday.

The U.S. outlook was in sharp contrast with Europe where separate reports showed German industrial output fell more than expected in February and British factory output suffered its biggest monthly fall in almost a year

Spain's IBEX 35 index (MCE:^IBEX - News) touched a 7-month low as concerns mounted about Spain's ability to meet its budget targets, while Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) ended up 0.1 percent.

Banking stocks, many of which have large exposure to the region's lower-rated sovereign debt, edged lower.

UniCredit (CRDI.MI) and Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), which both have exposure to euro zone peripheral debt, were also hard hit, down 3.1 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.

Bucking the softer global trend, non-banking financial sector firms led Chinese shares to their biggest single-day gain since early February, after Premier Wen Jiabao said the monopoly formed by the country's big banks needed to be broken to get money flowing to cash-starved companies.

GOLD, ENERGY CLIMB

Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,628.34 an ounce. Weaker prices tempted some buyers but gains were capped by a stronger dollar and fading hopes of a fresh round of U.S. stimulus.

Market watchers said some hedge funds might have reduced gold holdings due to stronger U.S. economic data and easing of fears about European debt.

"A lot of the gold trade by hedge funds was specifically tied to a new round of Fed stimulus," said Jeffrey Sica, chief investment officer of SICA Wealth Management with more than $1 billion in assets.

In the other market, U.S. crude was up $1.62 at $103.09 per barrel, while Brent crude was up $1.13 at $123.47.

Apr 05, 2012 15:53

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OctaFX.Com -Dollar drops as payrolls data keep Fed action alive

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar dropped broadly on Friday in thin holiday trade after disappointing U.S. jobs market data kept the prospect of more Federal Reserve monetary policy support alive.

The dollar fell against the euro for the first time in five days after data showed U.S. payrolls rose far less than expected in March.

The report offset sentiment earlier in the week that followed the release of Fed minutes from its last policy meeting that had market participants downplaying expectations of adding more monetary stimulus.

"Clearly a disappointing (payrolls) number. Across the board it's kind of an underwhelming number," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

The euro hit a high of $1.3112 after the report, rebounding from a three week low of $1.3033 reached n Thursday. It last traded at $1.3094, up 0.2 percent.

The dollar fell as low as 81.29 and last traded at 81.56, down 0.9 percent on the day, according to Reuters data.

"At the very least it will keep the door open to additional policy easing more so than before the number was released. In that respect it's definitely a negative for the dollar," Esiner said. "The extent of dollar losses is going to depend on how the market views this number, as an outlier or maybe evidence that the jobs growth is stalling."

Apr 06, 2012 06:33

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OctaFX.Com -Japanese Yen Surges against U.S. Dollar Following Dismal Jobs Report

Over the past few weeks, concerns arose over a potentially disappointing March jobs report for the U.S. economy in light of warm weather and impending seasonal adjustments. Those concerns were vindicated on Friday, reigniting a plummet in yields supporting the U.S. Dollar.

European Session Summary

Data was sparse in the overnight alongside quiet trading conditions, as most major European equity markets were closed on Friday due to a religious holiday over the weekend. U.S. equity markets were closed as well for the holiday, but one of the most important releases for the U.S. economy was released regardless; and the nonfarm payrolls report for March sparked immense volatility.

The U.S. economy added 120K jobs in March, exactly half of the revised February figure at 240K. Similarly, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent from 8.2 percent in March. Many economists and policymakers have been discussing the potential claw back in this month’s jobs report considering that the winter months were unseasonably warm across much of the United States. Why does weather affect NFPs? Warmer conditions are conducive to work outside, in particular construction projects, and work in that sector has surged in recent months.

Where does this leave the U.S. economy? The Federal Reserve’s minutes from their March 13 policy meeting indicated that officials are leaning away from another round of easing due to the progress the U.S. economy has made. In the intermeeting period, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke noted that more stimulus could be warranted should the labor market continue to struggle. On the other hand, New York Fed President William Dudley has stated that a moderation in jobs growth is to be expected, given the favorable weather conditions the past few months.

Is there scope for more easing now? It depends. On one hand, officials are concerned with the lack of progress made by the labor market and are willing to extend efforts to foster growth. On the other, it’s clear that a pullback in jobs growth was anticipated, so it might mean that Fed officials hold their ground. With numerous policymakers due to speak next week, most notably Chairman Bernanke on two separate occasions, speculation on the third installment of quantitative easing will increase once again.

 

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Overall, the Japanese Yen was the best performing major currency, gaining 0.99 percent against the U.S. Dollar. The Euro and the commodity currencies were hit the hardest by the jobs report, with the Canadian Dollar leading losses, depreciating by 0.28 percent. But for the Yen, however, all of the other majors were trading within 1/3 of a percent against the U.S. Dollar.

Apr 06, 2012 13:45

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OctaFX.Com - Dollar falls after US jobs report

Dollar falls against euro, pound, yen after US jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) -- The dollar fell against most major currencies in light trading Friday following a weak U.S. jobs report.

The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs in March, down from more than 200,000 in each of the previous three months. Economists expected 210,000 jobs to be added last month.

The unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent, the lowest since January 2009, but that was mainly due to more people giving up on finding work.

The euro was trading at $1.3095 late Friday $1.3060 late Thursday.

Currency trading is light because many traders are off for Good Friday. The U.S. stock market is closed and U.S. government bond trading closed at noon Eastern.

In other trading, the British pound rose to $1.5885 from $1.5828. The dollar fell to 81.59 Japanese yen from 82.36 yen and to 0.9172 Swiss franc from 0.9201 Swiss franc.

The dollar rose to 99.71 Canadian cent from 99.38 Canadian cents.

Apr 06, 2012 16:46

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OctaFx - EUR/USD Classical Technical Report 04.11

EUR/USD: The latest round of setbacks have stalled ahead of some key multi-week support by 1.3000 and from here, we still can not rule out risks for a shorter-term bounce back towards the 1.3200-1.3300 area, before considering bearish resumption. Ultimately, any rallies towards 1.3300 should be very well capped, while a break and close back under 1.3000, would accelerate declines.

Apr 11, 2012 06:12

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OctaFX.Com -Dollar extends gains vs. yen, hits session high

 

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar extended gains against the yen on Wednesday, bouncing from a six-week low hit earlier in the global session.

The dollar hit a high of 81.09 yen and last traded at 81.06, up 0.5 percent on the day, according to Reuters data.

In the overnight session the dollar dropped to 80.57, its lowest since February 29.

Apr 11, 2012 06:29

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OctaFX.Com - Gold pauses after rally, focus on euro zone

 

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LONDON (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday, after rising for four days straight, as the intensifying euro zone debt crisis threatened to undermine the euro and offset any potential safe-haven demand for the metal.

The euro rose on Wednesday but has come under pressure in the past week as the debt crisis has reignited. The focus is now on Spain, where the head of the central bank said on Tuesday commercial banks would need more capital if the economy continues to deteriorate.

Benchmark 10-year Spanish yields touched 6 percent for the first time since early December on Wednesday, having risen by more than two-thirds of a percentage point in the past week alone, while peripheral banking stocks have been pummeled.

Spot gold was last down 0.1 percent on the day at $1,659.00 an ounce by 1:25 p.m. EDT (1525 GMT), while U.S. June futures were down 0.1 percent at $1,659.90 an ounce.

Gold in euros was last down 0.5 percent at 1,261.72 euros an ounce, having touched two-week highs the previous day above 1,271.00 euros.

"The broader macro environment still remains positive. In the near term, the floor will be set by a combination of how strong investment demand is and how responsive the physical market is" Suki Cooper, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said.

Investment in gold has cooled somewhat. Speculators have cut their ownership of U.S. gold futures by more than a quarter since late February, although holdings of the metal in exchange-traded funds remain near record highs above 70 million ounces.

"Gold has found more support recently, but it doesn't have all of the catalysts in place to be driven substantially higher yet," Cooper said.

EURO TIES STRENGTHEN

The correlation between gold and the euro/dollar exchange rate strengthened on Wednesday to reach its most positive since early January, above 65 percent. That means the gold price is more likely to move in tandem with the single European currency than it was just six weeks ago.

"We think gold will be in a range of $1,600 to around $1,690 or $1,700, which is a fairly wide range. But I think it will be difficult for gold to break out of that range," Standard Bank analyst Walter de Wet said.

"What we are seeing is growing interest to buy in the physical market below $1,630. Should we drop below $1,600, the demand will be pretty strong," he said.

Metals consultancy GFMS, a unit of Thomson Reuters, said in its annual outlook for the gold market that a record high price above $2,000 an ounce next year could mark the peak of the precious metal's bull run of more than decade as monetary policy in major economies starts to tighten.

Gold prices for now are likely to drive above $2,000 as concerns over the euro zone debt crisis persist and the idea of more U.S. monetary easing gains support, GFMS Chairman Philip Klapwijk told Reuters.

In Europe, Italian one-year borrowing costs rose for the first time since November at a sale of short-dated paper on Wednesday, reflecting fresh doubts in the market about the more indebted euro zone nations and nerves ahead of a larger three-year sale on Thursday.

On the demand side, Hong Kong's gold exports to China rose 20 percent in February on the month as appetite for the precious metal remains strong in China, which is expected to overtake India as the world's top gold consumer this year.

Some suspected the number could include purchases from the public sector, as the market was largely quiet during a post-Lunar New Year holiday slump in February.

"On the public level, China's central bank will continue to accumulate gold, which is easier than liberalizing their capital account and currency," said Jeremy Friesen, a commodity strategist at Societe Generale, adding that building gold reserves would help China's push to turn the renminbi into a global currency.

Accommodative monetary policy will remain an incentive for private investors to buy into gold, he added.

Silver fell 0.3 percent to $31.69 an ounce, pushing the number of ounces of the metal needed to buy one ounce of gold up to 52.5 from 50 just one week ago, reflecting gold's relative outperformance.

Platinum and palladium eased, with platinum down 0.4 percent at $1,585.74 an ounce and palladium off 0.5 percent at $633.22 an ounce.

Data earlier in the day that showed car sales in China had cooled in March following sharp gains in February weighed on palladium.

Palladium is used mainly in catalytic converters in engines of vehicles powered by gasoline. China is now the world's largest car market and is chiefly gasoline-driven.

Apr 11, 2012 12:06

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OctaFX.Com - Euro Weakens as ECB Monthly Report Warns of Inflation Risk

The ECB’s monthly statement released today largely echoed ECB Chief Draghi’s remarks from April 4th. The central bank mentioned economic recovery but warned of inflation…

THE TAKEAWAY: ECB monthly report sends mixed messages -> Inflation risks seen, but central expects inflation to align itself to forecasts -> Euro drops ahead of release but stabilizes as markets digest

The moderate economic recovery seen recently is subject to downside risks as inflation threatens to devalue the Euro, the European Central Bank’s monthly report for April said today. The statements were in line with ECB chief Draghi’s policy speech earlier in the month.

The Euro sank ahead of the ECB’s release but stabilized later on as markets digested the mixed messages.

 

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The ECB’s Governing Council said it plans to keep interest rates unchanged, and mentioned that it expects price developments to remain stable. The report mentioned a “moderate recovery” seen in the beginning of 2012, but warned that inflationary risks remain a factor in price action. Inflation fears have returned to the fore in Germany as property prices rise and monetary policy remains too loose.

However, the ECB also said it has the tools to combat inflation in the short and long term. The report pointed out that CPI is expected to stay above 2% this year but in the medium-term will slow to the ECB’s price stability target.

Apr 12, 2012 08:26

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OctaFX.Com - Euro, shares nervous ahead of Italian debt sale

LONDON (Reuters) - The euro dipped against the dollar and European shares inched higher on Thursday as nervousness grew ahead of an Italian debt sale that will gauge whether concerns over Spain are spreading to other debt-laden euro zone nations.

Data on industrial production across the euro area, which is likely to show it contracted by 0.3 percent in February, could also reignite fears that weak growth at a time of government austerity measures is undermining efforts to repair the region's finances.

Ahead of the Italian auction the euro fell to a low of $1.3102 before recovering to be steady at $1.1315, below a one-week high of $1.3158 struck on Wednesday, and within the $1.3030-$1.3165 range trodden in the past week.

"Should the Italian auction disappoint, we could see the euro reverse some of its gains," said Ankita Dudani, G-10 currency strategist at RBS Global Banking, who expects the bond sale to go through without much of a hitch.

Yields on 10-year Italian bonds were down 3.5 basis points to 5.506 percent in early trading, narrowing the spread over the less risky equivalent German bonds to 381 basis points and indicating fixed income investors are less worried about buying the debt.

Spanish 10-year bond yields were 2.7 basis points lower at 5.85 percent, with traders saying a disappointing Italian auction may be just the push needed for the yields to go back to around the 6 percent seen at the start of the week.

The turmoil in Spain's bond market that pushed the yields up has calmed down substantially following comments on Wednesday from European Central Bank executive board member Benoit Coeure, who hinted that the central bank might be willing to buy the debt from the market.

German Bund futures were slightly higher at 139.89, with 10-year cash yields steady at a near-record low 1.69 percent.

Italy's borrowing costs are expected to rise by about a full percentage point from a month ago at its 5 billion euro auction of new three-year bonds later, after the rate it pays for one-year money more than doubled at an auction on Wednesday.

STOCKS RECOVERY EXTENDS

European equity markets were slightly higher ahead of the Italian bond auction, adding to the previous session's tentative recovery following a week-long slide.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) of top European shares rose was up 1.83 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,035.63. The Euro STOXX 50 (.STOXX50E) index of Europe's blue chip companies gained 0.2 percent to 2,389.45, having suffered a 4.5 percent decline over the last five days that all but eradicated the year-to-date gains.

Globally, the MSCI world equity index (.MIWD00000PUS) was up 0.2 percent 322.85 after a good start to the U.S. corporate reporting season lifted Wall Street stocks and a strong Australian employment report encouraged the rebound in Asia.

The U.S. dollar was slightly softer against a basket of currencies (.DXY) following comments by the No. 2 official at the U.S. central bank, Janet Yellen, who said on Wednesday the Federal Reserve's ultra-easy monetary policy was appropriate, given high unemployment and the headwinds facing the economy.

Oil markets were all mostly steady, despite oil sheen spotted near Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) platforms in the central Gulf of Mexico overnight.

Brent crude was up 31 cents at $120.49 a barrel after touching a low of $119.93 in early trade. U.S. oil was up 37 cents at $103.07, adding to $1.68 a barrel gains made on Wednesday.

Apr 12, 2012 08:55

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OctaFX.Com - EUR/USD Unmoved Following Positive Euro Industrial Production Data

THE TAKEAWAY: Eurozone industrial production rises 0.5% during February, beats analysts’ expectations -> Weak production in Germany outweighed by 13% increase in the Netherlands -> EUR/USD stays at the same level following the report

Eurozone industrial production rose by 0.5% for the month of February, led by France and the Netherlands. The actual production beat average estimates of a 0.2% decline. However, the numbers were 1.8% lower than February of the previous year, as expected by analysts.

The numbers can be seen as a sign of economic stabilization for the Eurozone; and a drop in industrial production in Germany and Spain was offset by improved production in France and the Netherlands. The weak German numbers that were released last week were not fully represented in today’s numbers as the slump in construction output was not included in the Eurozone survey.

EUR/USD did not react strongly to the better than expected data. The pair rose and fell following the release, but later settled back down to initial levels.

Apr 12, 2012 15:50

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OctaFx - Euro down as Spain yields, China GDP worry

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Higher Spanish borrowing costs dragged the euro down on Friday, pulling the single currency to a second straight weekly loss against the dollar and the yen as the European debt crisis and slower-than-expected Chinese growth worried investors.

News that Spain's banks are virtually locked out of credit markets and relied heavily on cheap loans from the European Central Bank in March spooked investors, who then drove the cost of credit default swaps on Spanish debt to a record high.

The Spanish debt concerns stoked worries from earlier in the session, when data showed China's economy grew less than expected in the first quarter.

"The euro zone situation is slowly flaring up again, and that can have some people second-guessing how many euros they want to hold," said Sean Incremona, an economist at 4cast Ltd in New York.

"In the bigger picture, price action this week has been pretty inconsequential," he added. "We're pretty close to where it left off last week after the payroll action," when U.S. jobs data disappointed and the dollar sold off on views the U.S. Federal Reserve could ease policy further.

The single currency has been mostly range bound in recent weeks as investors look for a reason for large moves.

The euro fell 0.8 percent to $1.3080 on Friday, eroding what had previously been a slight advance for the week versus the dollar. The single currency was more recently off 0.16 percent against the greenback for the week.

Against the yen the euro was off 0.67 percent at 105.90 yen, for a fall of 0.815 percent this week.

The dollar's gains were broad-based, with the greenback rising 0.91 percent against the traditional safe-haven Swiss franc to 0.9192 francs. Against the yen, the dollar was up 0.09 percent at 80.95 yen.

"We are seeing the traditional reaction in that stocks are selling off, core bond markets are rallying, the dollar is rallying and commodities are getting hit," said George Davis, chief technical analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Investors could stay more pessimistic over the next few weeks, he said.

Uncertainty about the euro, however, has fallen as reflected in the options market, with three-month risk reversals in the euro/dollar still biased for euro puts, trading at -2.075 vols on Thursday, but improving from -3.5 vols in mid-February.

AUSSIE PRESSURED

The Australian dollar, which reacts strongly to Chinese data because Australia's commodity-driver economy relies heavily on Chinese demand, fell to as low as US$1.0352.

The Aussie had gained 1.2 percent on Thursday on a surprisingly strong local jobs report and solid bank lending data from China.

"We view yesterday's strong Australian employment and Chinese loan data as more important than the overnight Chinese Q1 GDP release and hence see the overnight sell-off in AUD as providing good levels to go long," Nomura analyst Geoff Kendrick said in a note.

Apr 13, 2012 12:50

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  • Dennis#MD changed the title to Financial News And Analysis by Octafx.com

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