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  1. #11
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    Post Stocks at 4-1/2 week high, risk back in favour

    World stocks hit a 4-1/2 week high on Monday and oil rose as investors grew confident over the prospects for the global economy after Greece avoided an early default on its debt and data pointed to a moderate slowdown in China's growth.

    Shanghai stocks hit a six-week high after data last week showed Chinese manufacturing growth moderated in June, raising expectations that the economy may not be headed for a sharp slowdown despite monetary policy tightening.

    Over the weekend, euro zone finance ministers approved a 12 billion euro installment of aid for Greece and said the details of a second aid package would be finalized by mid-September.

    But the euro pared its gains after ratings agency Standard & Poor's said a debt rollover plan being considered for Greece may still put the country into "selective default.

    "Greece was always going to be a sticking point and this issue of debt rollover and rating agencies views will be something that the market will keep an eye out for," said Jeremy Stretch, head of currency strategy at CIBC World Markets.

    Read full article at Stocks at 4-1/2 week high, risk back in favour | Reuters

  2. #12
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    Post Euro knocked off one-month highs by S&P Greece comments

    The euro slipped from one-month highs against the dollar after Standard & Poor's said a debt rollover plan being considered for Greece may put the country into selective default, though expectations for a second Greek bailout kept it underpinned.

    The euro had hit a one-month high of $1.4580 earlier on Monday after a weekend decision by euro zone finance ministers to approve a 12 billion euro loan that Greece needed to avert immediate default, but the country still needs another rescue package expected to total around 120 billion euros.

    Euro zone officials are working on how private creditors can be involved voluntarily, with French banks, major holders of Greek sovereign debt, putting in place proposals to rollover the bonds when they fall due.

    S&P's latest salvo served as a reminder to investors that the common currency's recovery would be at best rocky.

    "The French proposal is certainly raising a lot of interest in the market and the S&P's comment that it still constitutes a technical default does not really help the euro," said Audrey Childe-Freeman, EMEA head of currency strategy at JP Morgan Private Bank.

    Aside from a relief rally after the Greek parliament approved austerity and reform measures last week, the euro has also drawn support from market expectations that the European Central Bank will raise interest rates at a policy meeting later this week.

    The euro dropped from around $1.4550 to as low as $1.4510 immediately after the S&P comments.

    It traded with slight losses at $1.4511 in afternoon dealing, having risen to $1.4580 on trading platform EBS, its highest since early June. Volumes were light with U.S. markets shut for the Independence Day holiday.
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  3. #13
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    Default Gold edges down on dollar gains, technicals weak

    Spot gold edged down on Tuesday, under the weight of a stronger dollar as a short squeeze boosted the greenback, and a weak technical picture cast a shadow on gold's short-term outlook.

    The dollar was bought back broadly on a flurry of stop-loss buying and short-covering by macro funds, while the euro was set to snap a six-day winning streak. <USD/>

    A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for buyers who hold other currencies.

    The technical picture suggested a lack of momentum in bullion, although physical buying by Asian countries, including Thailand and Indonesia, helped support prices.

    Spot gold inched down 0.1 percent to $1,493.70 an ounce by 0617 GMT.

    "We have seen a lot of interest below $1,500, but it is not enough to bring prices back above the level," said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management.

    Schnider said that gold's short-term technical picture looked sluggish after prices broke an uptrend from 2008.

    "A lot of people have cleared positions after the uptrend was broken and we are still in a consolidation phase. Gold could move toward $1,445 from a technical perspective," he said.

    In the short term, gold's technical signals were seen neutral after prices failed to drop in the previous session, and prices were expected to range between $1,479 and $1,514, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
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  4. #14
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    Post Debt limit deal not out of reach

    You would never know it from all the hot air rising out of Washington, but President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans could easily reach a deal to raise the debt limit and avoid an early August default.

    Before talks hit a brick wall last weekend, negotiators were tantalizingly close to a $2 trillion-plus budget deal that would enable Congress to sign off on further borrowing, according to Democratic and Republican sources.

    Since then, things have not looked good. Obama compared Republicans to lazy schoolchildren and Democrats accused them of deliberately sabotaging the economy. Republicans have not shied away from salty language, either.

    "Washington is addicted to spending, and the addict-in- chief is the president," Republican Senator Jim DeMint said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

    Analysts worry lawmakers may be painting themselves into a corner. "In order to get out of this mess they're going to have to eat some of their words," said Joe Minarik, a former budget official in the Clinton administration.

    The Treasury Department has warned the country will face default if Congress does not lift the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2. That could push the country back into recession and upend financial markets across the globe.

    Whether Republicans and Democrats can bridge their differences over the coming weeks remains to be seen.

    From a dollar standpoint, the two sides are closer to a deal than it might appear.

    Full article, please visit Debt limit deal not out of reach | Reuters
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  5. #15
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    Post Gold hovers near 1-1/2 week high on Portugal rating cut

    Spot gold on Wednesday hovered near a 1-1/2-week high hit in the previous session, supported by renewed worries about the euro zone's debt problem after Moody's slashed Portugal's credit rating to junk.

    Moody's also warned that Portugal may need a second round of rescue funds, cutting into risk appetite in financial markets and pushing gold to a 1-1/2-week high of $1,516.49 on Tuesday

    "Portugal was certainly the trigger, and the mood in the financial markets has turned a bit cautious," said a Singapore-based trader.

    Spot gold inched down 0.2 percent to $1,513.19 an ounce by 11:18 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, after rising more than 1 percent in the previous session.

    U.S. gold was up nearly 0.1 percent to $1,513.80.

    The short-term technical picture has turned positive, with spot gold expected to rebound further toward $1,550 per ounce, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.

    Brokerage MF Global expects gold to remain rangebound between $1,490 to $1,550 in July, supported by expectations that global monetary policy will remain supportive.

    "The rebound in global manufacturing will simply return the economy to a sub-par rate of recovery, which should create an environment of slow but stable growth, volatility in inflation, and accommodative monetary policy," the firm said in a research note.

    "Such ingredients should maintain a favorable environment for the gold market this month."

    Spot platinum hit $1,739.50, its highest in nearly two weeks, in an attempt to cross above the 20-day moving average at $1,740.46. It was last quoted at $1,731.74.

    Spot palladium rose to a three-week high of $774.75, building on gains in the past six consecutive sessions on back of strong equity performance, before easing to $772.15.

    Investors are watching the ongoing strike in Freeport-McMoran's Indonesia mine as well as threat of strike in South Africa's main gold mines, which can be potentially supportive of prices should any serious production disruption occur. So far market reaction had been muted.

    Also on investor radar was a key U.S. employment report scheduled for release on Friday, which is expected to show a modest rise in payrolls in June after suffering a setback in the prior month.

  6. #16
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    Post Is Europe’s debt crisis a “Lehman Moment” for America?

    By Mohamed A. El-Erian
    The opinions expressed are his own.

    With its high unemployment and stretched balance sheets, today’s US economy can ill-afford a negative shock from abroad. Yet, this is what it is experiencing. And it explains why markets go through bouts of nervousness about the debt crisis in Europe, and why American policymakers are worried about a foreign financial situation that is getting worse by the day.

    Europe’s debt problem is indeed a headwind for what remains a disappointing US economic recovery. It dampens America’s export prospects, can raise the cost of borrowing for some American companies and diminishes an already low enthusiasm among banks to lend to households and small companies.

    Having said that, it is unlikely, though not inconceivable, that Europe’s debt crisis would constitute a “Lehman Moment” — a situation that totally paralyzes American economic activity, puts the country on the verge of a depression and triggers yet another round of extreme crisis management measures.

    There is now broad-based recognition of America’s persistent economic weakness. Most recently, the Federal Reserve has been forced again to revise downwards its growth projections for both 2011 and 2012. Moreover, with refreshing candor that speaks well to the uncertainties felt by the average American, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged in his second ever press conference on June 22 that only part of the economic weakness is due to transitory factors such as higher oil prices and supply disruptions associated with the Japanese tragedies.

    As Bernanke hinted, and as PIMCO’s analyses have demonstrated for a while, the US unfortunately faces four structural headwinds that are yet to be addressed properly by policymakers.

    First, and nearly three years after the global financial crisis, the US housing market is still unable to find a firm enough footing. This undermines confidence and limits labor mobility.

    Second, joblessness remains worrisomely high, and to make things even worse, is increasingly structural in nature. Witness the 9% unemployment rate, declining labor participation and an alarming 24% unemployment rate among 16-19 year-olds and a 40% rate for African-Americans.

    Third, credit is yet to flow properly in the economy. With bank lending still hampered, it is small companies and poorer households that suffer the most.

    Fourth, there is a problem of debt and leverage. Coming off a “great age” of debt and credit-entitlement that went way too far, balance sheet rehabilitation has been uneven and generally insufficient. Yes, some sectors, led by multinational companies, have recovered strongly. But far too many in the private sector are still over-indebted. Meanwhile, public balance sheets, be they of the Federal Reserve or the fiscal agencies, are contaminated to such an extent that they now constitute a source of medium-term uncertainty.

    Policy responses have been too timid in the face of the economic challenges, and for too long, lacking a central vision. Instead, they have been ad hoc, too reactive and lacking sufficient structural underpinnings.

    In the absence of a credible alternative, the role of the country’s main economic spokesperson has fallen to President Obama who, understandably and correctly, is extremely busy with many other national and international priorities. Meanwhile, the other arms of government — Congress in particular — are hostage to extreme political polarization, posturing and bickering. And the recurrent drama associated with budgetary legislation discussions — including the continuing budgetary resolution of a few months ago or today’s debt ceiling debate — adds to the uncertainties facing the nation.

    In sum, this is not an economy that is well positioned to deal with a shock from abroad, let alone a major one. Its ability to absorb a systemic shock has been worn down by persistent internal economic weaknesses and the agility needed to sidestep, or at least minimize the impact of the shock, has been eroded by slow economic policy responses and stretched balance sheets.

    All this helps to explain America’s concern about Europe’s debt crisis, which has led to periodic selloffs in capital markets and warnings from policymakers. It also speaks to why some commentators have gone as far to suggest that the country faces another “Lehman Moment” — a devastating shock that totally paralyzes the economy, disrupts the functioning of the financial system and pushes the country to the verge of a great depression.

    This situation was last faced in the fourth quarter of 2008 following the disorderly collapse of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank. As illustrated by various recounts of those nervous months, policymakers came very close to losing complete control of the situation, despite all the firepower at their disposals.

    Indeed, if it weren’t for the aggressive use of what was at that time a relatively healthy public sector balance sheet (especially that of the central bank’s), the US would have been forced into temporarily shutting down its financial system (including by declaring a “bank holiday”) and experiencing an economic depression which, according to some, would have been worse than that of the 1930s.

    The question of the “Lehman Moment” becomes even more important now that policymakers have less firepower at their disposal to counter a huge shock. So what should we expect in the months ahead?

    To be sure, the European debt crisis is a serious political, economic and financial engineering predicament that is hard to solve. As such, it will likely get worse before it gets better. In the process, it will slow global economic growth, increase risk premiums and darken the cloud over the health of the financial sector in Europe.

    None of this is welcome news to an American economy that urgently needs to create jobs. But it need not result in a repeat of the total Lehman paralysis provided three conditions are met: a banking system that remains robust, no disruptions to money market funds and limited blockage to the plumbing of the country’s payments and settlement system.

    Chairman Bernanke has spoken publicly to all three. Noting the Fed’s focus on these issues, he has indicated that the US does not face a new Lehman Moment.

    Published data, to the extent that they are comprehensive and accurate, support his view; as do the actions taken by certain institutions. But risks remain, particularly within a money market complex starved for yield, and where certain firms appear to have stretched far and wide for extra returns.

    A small risk of a catastrophic event should never be ignored. Accordingly, there is no room here for any complacency among policymakers whose economic management to date has fallen far short of what is needed to create jobs and put the country back on the path of high and sustained economic growth. Indeed, Europe serves to amplify warning sirens that have been ringing for a while.

    Let us all hope that the increasing volume of the alarm will finally push America to design and implement the type of holistic measures that are desperately needed and long overdue. In the meantime, risk-averse companies, households and investors are justified in taking some extra precautionary steps.

  7. #17
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    Obama to meet Congress leaders Thursday on debt

    President Barack Obama rejected proposals on Tuesday for a short-term deal to raise the U.S. debt limit and pressured congressional leaders to reach a broad agreement within two weeks to avoid a government default by August 2.

    Obama invited Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. Congress to the White House on Thursday to take stock of the stalled negotiations to reach a deal on budget cuts that would give Congress political cover to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling that caps U.S. borrowing.

    The talks collapsed in acrimony two weeks ago and both sides have blamed the other for failure to reach a deal.

    Democrats and Republicans have reached a rough agreement on billions of dollars in government spending cuts but are at loggerheads over taxes. Democrats want to increase taxes on wealthier Americans to help lessen the deficit, while Republicans refuse any tax increase, fearing it would worsen the country's 9.1 percent jobless rate.

    The White House is looking to clinch a deal by July 22 to soothe market fears and give Congress time to approve it.

    "We need to come together over the next two weeks to reach a deal that reduces the deficit and upholds the full faith and credit of the United States government and the credit of the American people," Obama told reporters at the White House.

    Republicans were skeptical that a new White House meeting would make much difference.

    "I'm happy to discuss these issues at the White House, but such discussions will be fruitless until the president recognizes economic and legislative reality," House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

    "The legislation the president has asked for -- which would increase taxes on small businesses and destroy more American jobs -- cannot pass the House, as I have said repeatedly," said Boehner, the top Republican in Congress.

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he viewed the meeting as an opportunity to know "whether or not the president will finally agree to a serious plan to reduce the deficit."

  8. #18
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    Post Euro extends losses, AUD falls after China rate hike

    The euro extended losses and commodity currencies fell on Wednesday after China raised rates for the third time this year, driving investors to shed exposure in riskier assets in a market already shaken by Portugal's rating being cut to junk

    Investors cut exposure to stocks, commodities and growth-linked currencies, pushing the Australian dollar down 0.3 percent to $1.0660. Analysts, though, said the sell-off was a knee-jerk reaction and would be limited.

    "When the Chinese raise interest rates the initial reaction of the commodity currencies is normally negative in the short-term but the story is that China is serious about moderating the pace of its economy and the trend is still a positive one," said Peter Kinsella, analyst at Commerzbank.

    The latest move increases China's benchmark one-year lending rate to 6.56 percent, and lifts its benchmark one-year deposit rate to 3.5 percent.

    It weighed on an already soft euro, dogged by renewed concerns of sovereign debt contagion after Moody's downgraded Portuguese debt by four notches to Baa2, saying the country may need a second round of official financing before it can return to capital markets.

    The euro was last down 0.7 percent at $1.4322, close to it's lowest level in a week with decent-sized offers cited from $1.4280 to $1.4300.

    Investors like model funds, sovereign investors and short-term speculators sold the single currency after spreads of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian government bond yields over their German counterparts widened in European trade. Heightened concerns about funding also saw Portuguese credit default swaps jump.

    Many expect losses to be checked as the market gears up for a quarter percentage point rate hike by the European Central Bank on Thursday, and President Jean-Claude Trichet's news conference will be closely watched for clues on the ongoing pace of the tightening cycle.

    "Market participants are closing positions ahead of the ECB meeting tomorrow and taking a bit of profit," said Kinsella.

    "We have lost nearly two figures over the last two days and could see it around $1.4300 or $1.4280 but I don't think it'll go much further before the ECB meeting tomorrow."

  9. #19
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    Post Exclusive: Treasury secretly weighs options to avert default

    A small team of Treasury officials is discussing options to stave off default if Congress fails to raise the country's borrowing limit by an August 2 deadline, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

    Senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, have repeatedly said there are no contingency plans if lawmakers do not give the U.S. government the authority to borrow more money.

    But behind the scenes, top Treasury officials have been exploring ways to prevent a financial meltdown that would be triggered if the government were unable to pay its bills on time, sources told Reuters.

    Treasury has studied the following issues:

    - Whether the administration can delay payments to try to manage cash flows after August 2

    - If the U.S. Constitution allows President Barack Obama to ignore Congress and the government to continue to issue debt

    - Whether a 1985 finding by a government watchdog gives the government legal authority to prioritize payments.

    The Treasury team has also spoken to the Federal Reserve about how the central bank -- specifically the New York Federal Reserve Bank -- would operate as Treasury's broker in the markets if a deal to raise the United States' $14.3 trillion borrowing cap is not reached on time.

    The U.S. government currently borrows about $125 billion each month. The Obama administration wants Congress to raise the limit by more than $2 trillion to meet the country's borrowing needs through the 2012 presidential election.

    The contingency discussions, which have remained a closely guarded secret throughout weeks of negotiations with Congress over the debt ceiling, are being led by Mary Miller, Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets, who is effectively custodian of the country's public debt.

    Miller's team has debated whether Obama could ignore Congress and order continued borrowing -- by relying on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution -- if it fails to raise the borrowing cap.

    The fourth section of the 14th Amendment states the United States' public debt "shall not be questioned." Some argue the clause means the government cannot renege on its debts.

    Obama dismissed talk of invoking the amendment on Wednesday. "I don't think we should even get to the constitutional issue," he said. "Congress has a responsibility to make sure we pay our bills. We've always paid them in the past."


    The White House declined to comment on the discussions at Treasury, but administration officials sought to tamp down talk of relying on the 14th Amendment.

    There has been growing speculation in Washington in recent days that the administration could use the amendment to ignore the congressionally imposed limit on the amount of money the United States can borrow.

    "Despite suggestions to the contrary, the 14th Amendment is not a failsafe that would allow the government to avoid defaulting on its obligations," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

    Miller's team has discussed the Government Accountability Office's 1985 assessment that Treasury has the authority to prioritize payments in the event of a default -- an option Treasury officials have been wary of.

    The administration's nightmare scenario is that investors panic at the prospect of a default, triggering a crisis that eclipses the 2008 financial meltdown. That could plunge the U.S. economy into another recession, something that could doom Obama's re-election prospects in 2012.

    Some conservative Republicans have argued the Treasury can prioritize payments and manage a default. The administration wants to keep lawmakers focused on the August 2 deadline, and even a hint of a "Plan B" could lessen the urgency to strike a deal by then.

    "As we have said repeatedly over the past six months, there is no alternative to raising the debt limit," Treasury spokeswoman Colleen Murray said when asked to comment on the Treasury discussions.

    "The only way to prevent a default crisis and protect America's credit-worthiness is to enact a timely debt limit increase, which we remain confident Congress will do."
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  10. #20
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    Post A year after Dodd-Frank, CFTC tackles manipulation

    Futures regulators will gain much more muscle to crack down on market manipulation under a rule set to be finalized on Thursday as part of the financial overhaul passed a year ago.

    The rule would expand the CFTC's ability to prosecute market manipulation by requiring that it show a trader acted recklessly -- a less burdensome standard of proof than it faces now. For the first time, it would allow the CFTC to prosecute fraud-based manipulation.

    The proposal comes as no surprise, being almost identical to a draft introduced last October.

    Under existing rules, the CFTC must prove an individual intended to manipulate prices -- evidence that is difficult to find through e-mails or phone calls. It also has to show the person had the market power to move the price of a commodity and that the trader caused an artificial price to occur.

    With such a high bar, the CFTC has only claimed a single victory in a manipulation suit in its history.

    "We currently have a nearly impossible manipulation standard," said Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner.

    "We will now be able to swiftly and aggressively 'get at' these types of fraudulent market practices, which can contribute to uneconomic or false prices in commodities markets," he said.

    A CFTC official told reporters in a briefing that the new authority would allow it to "capture a larger category of fraud cases." For example, the CFTC would now have the authority to bring a case when a defendant misappropriates material nonpublic information, and trades on it.

    The futures regulator cautioned that a failure to disclose information prior to a transaction will not automatically be considered a violation. The final rule also included protection to ensure good-faith mistakes such as mistyping a number or negligence will not be classified as a violation of the law.

    The CFTC's five commissioners are expected to vote on the manipulation measure and four other rules at a meeting on Thursday. It is the first meeting to finalize rules mandated under Dodd-Frank that increased its oversight of the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market.

    The CFTC has said it will miss the July 16 deadline for implementing dozens of rules contained in last year's Dodd-Frank legislation. It proposed last month a plan that would delay some swap rules to ease growing anxiety among traders and fend off possible legal challenges.

    The futures regulator, armed with the new Dodd-Frank anti-manipulation powers and a new enforcement chief, David Meister, who has vowed to act aggressively, could push the CFTC to move quickly to combat traders who manipulate prices or defraud investors.

    Some expect to see more cases, such as the one the CFTC filed in May when it charged traders Nick Wildgoose of London-based Arcadia Energy and James Dyer of Oklahoma's Parnon Energy, and their companies, for manipulating oil prices. The charges came under CFTC's current authority.

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