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Monday, January 18, 2010


*US markets are closed in observance of Martin Luther King's Birthday
Asian markets close mixed after Wall Street's poor showing last week
Share markets across the Asian-Pacific region ended mixed Monday, with Shanghai getting a lift from airline stocks after China Eastern Airlines said it expects to return to profit. Japan's Nikkei 225 gave up 1.2%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 0.9%. China's Shanghai Composite added 0.4%, South Korea's Kospi Composite climbed 0.6% and Taiwan's Taiex shed 0.2%. Thailand's SET edged up 0.1%, New Zealand's NZX 50 inched down 0.3% and shares in the Philippines slid 0.4%. The Wall Street Journal (18 Jan.)

*Its all smoke and mirrors.
Analysis: Politicians are increasingly challenging central banks
Meddling in the work of central banks has become popular among politicians, according to this Economist analysis. Serious conflicts have emerged in Argentina, Japan and South Korea. Even in the U.S., members of Congress have been fiercely critical of the Federal Reserve. None of this suggests that widespread rejection of central bank independence is ahead. The overlooked risk is that politicians will alarm investors and drive long-term interest rates higher than necessary. The Economist (14 Jan.)

*I certainly hope so.
New Jersey consumers more confident about spending
Optimism is on the rise in New Jersey, according to a new annual poll that shows roughly six in 10 respondents believe business conditions will improve this year. The New Jersey Consumer Intentions index rose from 39 a year ago to 42. The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) (1/18)

Yuan is likely to rise against dollar after central bank's move
A decision by the People's Bank of China to raise the reserve ratio for commercial banks might boost the Chinese yuan against the U.S. dollar, economists said. The yuan gained slightly against the dollar after the decision was announced last week, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. (China)/Shanghai Daily (18 Jan.)

Financial crisis, budget deficits put euro under stress
A long list of problems, including budget deficits in Greece and Ireland as well as unemployment in Spain, is putting a spotlight on the euro's vulnerability. Few policymakers expect the currency to fall apart, but it is becoming obvious that stabilizing the region's finances will require politically unpopular steps, European policy experts said. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)/The Associated Press (17 Jan.)

Banks bet on economic recovery in Central, Eastern Europe
Italy's UniCredit, Austria's Raiffeisen International and other banks are betting that Central and Eastern Europe will begin to recover from the economic crisis. The banks are adding branches and online-banking services in the region as credit growth begins to pick up in Poland and some other countries. "I would see 2010 as a year of transition with the first signs of recovery coming," said Federico Ghizzoni, head of Central and Eastern European operations at UniCredit. Financial Times (tiered subscription model) (17 Jan.)

U.S. families feel pinch as inflation rises, wages fall
Inflation-adjusted weekly wages in the U.S. declined 1.6% last year, the largest drop since 1990. The overall inflation rate for the period was 2.7%. Detroit Free Press/The Associated Press (17 Jan.)

*not enough I can assure you! Been grocery shopping lately? Where do they get these numbers?
Supermarket prices fell last year in U.S. as CPI increased
For the first time since 1961, the cost of groceries in the U.S. dropped last year, with the food index falling 0.5%, according to the Labor Department. Dairy and related products plummeted 7.6%, the sharpest drop since 1938. The Christian Science Monitor (15 Jan.)

Business confidence is sliding in Britain, survey finds
Business confidence in the U.K. suffered a modest setback in recent weeks, according to Lloyds TSB. A survey of 200 firms found that one in five is pessimistic about the future. "Although confidence levels fell back at the end of the year, the context here is critical," said Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets. "Across the board, businesses are now far more optimistic about the economic outlook than they were 12 months earlier." Google/The Press Association (U.K.) (17 Jan.)

Asking prices on U.K. houses go up 4.1% from a year ago
House prices in the U.K. spiked in the first week of January as sellers asked for more. The average asking price increased 4.1% compared with the same week in 2009, according to property Web site Rightmove. Google/The Press Association (U.K.) (17 Jan.)

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