Sunday, 28 February 2016

New Zealand Building Consents -8.2% vs. -1.9% forecast


Category: Economic Indicators


The number of new building consents issued in New Zealand fell more-than-expected last month, official data showed on Sunday.In a report, Statistics New Zealand said that New Zealand Building Consents fell to a seasonally adjusted -8.2%, from 2.3% in the preceding month.Analysts had expected New Zealand Building Consents to fall to -1.9% l

Australian CGOP -2.8% vs. -1.8% forecast


Category: Economic Indicators


Gross operating profits of Australian companies fell more-than-expected in the last quarter, official data showed on Monday.In a report, Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australian CGOP fell to a seasonally adjusted -2.8%, from 1.4% in the preceding quarter whose figure was revised up from 1.3%.Analysts had expected Australian CGOP to fall to -1.8% in the last quarter

Gold prices weaker in Asia as investors look for more data on Fed views


Category: Commodities


Gold prices eased in Asia on Monday as investors awaited further data cues on the roadmap for U.S. interest rates.Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 0.32% to $1,219.40 a troy ounce.Silver futures for March delivery were up 0.24% at $14.720 a troy ounce, while copper futures were flat at $2,118 a pound.Last week, copper futures gained strongly as China hinted at easier monetary policy. The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for nearly 45% of world consumption.In the week ahead, investors will be looking to Friday’s U.S. nonfarm patrols report for fresh indications on the strength of the labor market.Investors will also be focusing on surveys of manufacturing and service sector activity in both the U.S. and China.Last week, gold prices fell sharply on Friday, as upbeat U.S. data boosted optimism over the strength of the economy and supported the case for higher interest rates, sending the dollar broadly higher.Gold’s losses came as the U.S. dollar strengthened broadly after data showed the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.0% in the three months to December, up from an initial estimate of 0.7% growth. Economists had expected fourth quarter GDP growth to be revised down to 0.4%.Separate reports, showing personal spending, inflation and consumer sentiment all rose in January added to the view that the U.S. recovery is on track.The likelihood of a June rate hike by the Federal Reserve jumped to 32.2% from 19.7% prior to the upbeat data, according to CME Group’s FedWatch site. Any rate hikes this year are viewed as bearish for gold, which struggles to compete with high-yield bearing assets in rising rate environments.A stronger U.S. dollar usually weighs on gold, as it dampens the metal's appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Portugal stocks higher at close of trade; PSI 20 up 1.04%


Category: Stock Market


Portugal stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the Financials, Consumer Goods and Basic Materials sectors led shares higher.At the close in Lisbon, the PSI 20 added 1.04%.The best performers of the session on the PSI 20 were Banco Comercial Portugues (LS:BCP), which rose 4.37% or 0.0014 points to trade at 0.0334 at the close. Meanwhile, Semapa (LS:SEM) added 4.03% or 0.4400 points to end at 11.3450 and Banco BPI (LS:BBPI) was up 2.56% or 0.0260 points to 1.0420 in late trade.The worst performers of the session were Pharol SGPS SA (LS:PHRA), which fell 7.88% or 0.0160 points to trade at 0.1870 at the close. Impresa SGPS (LS:IMPA) declined 2.45% or 0.0110 points to end at 0.4380 and EDP (LS:EDP) was down 1.81% or 0.0520 points to 2.8230.Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Lisbon Stock Exchange by 38 to 12 and 5 ended unchanged.Shares in Pharol SGPS SA (LS:PHRA) fell to all time lows; falling 7.88% or 0.0160 to 0.1870.Brent oil for April delivery was up 1.56% or 0.55 to $35.84 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in April rose 1.06% or 0.35 to hit $33.42 a barrel, while the April Gold contract fell 1.36% or 16.90 to trade at $1221.90 a troy ounce.EUR/USD was down 0.85% to 1.0924, while EUR/GBP fell 0.20% to 0.7877.The US Dollar Index was up 0.76% at 98.18.

Peru stocks lower at close of trade; S&P Lima General down 0.15%


Category: Stock Market


Peru stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the S&P Lima Juniors, Industrials and Banking&Financials sectors led shares lower.At the close in Lima, the S&P Lima General fell 0.15%.The best performers of the session on the S&P Lima General were Minsur (LM:MINi), which rose 7.14% or 0.050 points to trade at 0.750 at the close. Meanwhile, Volcan Minera (LM:VOL_pb) added 5.00% or 0.019 points to end at 0.399 and Milpo (LM:MIL) was up 5.00% or 0.080 points to 1.680 in late trade.The worst performers of the session were Buenaventura (LM:BVN), which fell 3.51% or 0.190 points to trade at 5.230 at the close. Panoro (LM:PML) declined 2.61% or 0.003 points to end at 0.112 and Grana Y Monter (LM:GRA) was down 1.53% or 0.040 points to 2.580.Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Lima Stock Exchange by 16 to 9 and 9 ended unchanged.Crude oil for April delivery was down 0.57% or 0.19 to $32.88 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 0.20% or 0.07 to hit $35.22 a barrel, while the April Gold contract fell 1.24% or 15.30 to trade at $1223.50 a troy ounce.USD/PEN was down 0.16% to 3.5225, while EUR/PEN fell 0.49% to 3.8890.The US Dollar Index was up 0.68% at 98.10.

U.S. stocks mixed amid unexpected inflation surge, slight drop in oil


Category: Stock Market


Investing.com -- U.S. stocks were mixed on Friday as investors reacted to the highest annual increase in core inflation in more than three years and a slight drop in oil prices, placing the brakes on February's enormous rally.On Friday morning, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that its Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) Index jumped by 1.3% in January from its level 12 month earlier, an improvement of 0.7 from December's reading. The Core PCE Index, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose by 0.3% from the previous month, extending monthly gains from December. On a yearly basis, Core PCE surged by 1.7% from its level in January, 2015, also 0.3% higher from December's reading. Separately, the Commerce Department upwardly revised Real GDP growth in the fourth quarter to 1.0%, from initial estimates of 0.7%.While the strong economic data could provide a boost to the major indices, it also bolstered the chances the Federal Reserve could raise short-term interest rates in the coming months as Core PCE inflation moves toward its targeted goal of 2%.Any rate hikes this year are viewed as bearish for stocks, as investors exit their positions in equities in favor of higher yields in bond markets.The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 58.82 or 0.35% to 16,638.47, while the NASDAQ Composite index added 8.26 or 0.18% to 4,590.47, amid gains among technology and pharmaceutical stocks. The S&P 500 Composite index, meanwhile, fell 3.67 or 0.19% to 1,948.04, as six of 10 sectors closed in the red. Stocks in the Basic Materials industry led, while stocks in the Utilities sector lagged. The Dow and S&P 500 turned negative late in the session after crude futures pared earlier gains on Friday afternoon.Despite the slight losses, the major indices gained roughly 2% on the week. U.S. stocks have responded to a massive sell-off over the first six weeks of 2016, with one of their strongest two-week rallies over the last year.The top performer on the Dow was EI du Pont de Nemours and Company (N:DD), which added 1.19 or 1.97% to 61.61. DuPont finished just above Boeing Company (N:BA), which gained 1.66 or 1.42% to 118.48, amid heavy short covering late in the session. Earlier, Forbes reported that the aircraft manufacturer replaced Wal-Mart Stores Inc (N:WMT) as the 13th highest shorted component on the Dow. Boeing (N:BA)'s shares retreated earlier in the week after its chief rival Airbus reported a surge in new orders for the first quarter.Coca-Cola Company (N:KO) finished as the worst performer after losing 2.31% to 43.14, following a late sell-off. Coca-Cola finished just below Wal-Mart, which fell sharply amid reports from the Wall Street Journal that the world's largest retailer cut more than 100 jobs from its corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas this week. Shares in Wal-Mart lost 1.47 ot 2.15% to close at 66.58.The biggest gainer on the NASDAQ was Baidu Inc (O:BIDU), which surged 16.08 or 10.16% to 174.30, after the Chinese search engine posted better than expected earnings with its fourth quarter results.The worst performer was Intuit Inc (O:INTU), which lost 4.22 or 4.22% to 95.85, falling off one-month highs from Thursday's session. The California-based tax preparation software company surged above 100 a session earlier, after beating quarterly expectations amid rising demand ahead of April's filing deadline.The top performer on the S&P 500 was Marathon Oil Corporation (N:MRO), which gained 0.64 or 8.59% to 8.03. A bevy of energy companies were among the top performers on the S&P, as Ensco, Transocean and CHK all closed up by more than 5%. The worst performer was Southwestern Energy Company (N:SWN), which fell 0.38 or 5.61% to 6.39. Shares in Southwestern Energy are down by more than 75% over the last year.On the New York Stock Exchange, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by a 1,871-1,168 margin.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Forex - Aussie down further despite better-than-expected spending data

February 25 2016 

Category: Forex


The Aussie fell further in Asia on Wednesday despite better than expected data on capital spending.AUD/USD traded at 0.7171, down 0.36%, while USD/JPY changed hands at 112.00, down 0.17%.In Australia, building capital expenditure for the fourth quarter rose 1.2%, beating a decline of 4.7% seen month-on-month, as well as plant/machinery capital expenditure rose 0.1%, from an 8.5% drop previously, and private new capital expenditure gained 0.8%, compared to a 3.0% drop expected.The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was last quoted at 97.51, up 0.05%.Elsewhere came comments on U.S. interest rates.A weak inflation outlook makes St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard less inclined to increase short-term interest rates, the voting member of the Fed's policy making Federal Open Market Committee said in remarks late Wednesday in the U.S.He noted inflation expectations have fallen "too far for comfort,""I regard it as unwise to continue a normalization strategy in an environment of declining market-based inflation expectations," he said, repeating similar remarks made in the past week.Overnight, the dollar erased gains against the other major currencies on Wednesday, pulling away from a three-week high after data showed that U.S. new home sales dropped far more-than-expected in January.The U.S. Commerce Department said new home sales dropped by 9.2% to 494,000 units last month, compared to expectations for a decline of 4.4% to 520,000.New home sales in December were revised down to an 8.2% increase, from a previously estimated 10.8% gain. The dollar found some support after Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker said on Wednesday that the case for a rate hike was bolstered by recent data and that the U.S. central bank should concentrate on fostering economic growth via its control of inflation.The comments came after Fed Vice-Chairman Stanley Fischer said that Fed officials " simply do not know" what course of action they will take at their next meeting in March.Meanwhile, demand for the safe-haven yen remained supported as oil prices slipped below $32 a barel on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said that production cuts "will not happen".Separately, Iran also said it had no interest in reducing production after international sanctions against it were lifted, calling a joint Russian/Saudi proposal for major exporters to freeze output "laughable".Sterling remained under pressure amid fears over the impact on the economy if the outcome of the June 23 referendum leads to a “Brexit”.The pound has now lost 3.4% so far this week after Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a referendum on EU membership will take place on June 23.Several senior members of his Conservative party, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, have said they will be backing the campaign to leave the EU, in a blow to the prime ministers plans to remain in the bloc.Cabinet ministers continued to clash over the referendum on Wednesday, after Justice Secretary Michael Gove said a new deal agreed between Britain and Brussels to keep Britain in the EU is not legally binding.

China's Zhu cites managed exchange rate, fiscal room as key policies

February 25 2016 

Category: Economic Indicators


China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said Thursday that the country will continue with a managed exchange rate in the interest of stability, but that there is more room on the fiscal side for policy aims."We need the yuan relatively stable and balanced given China's current economic growth status," Zhu said at an Institute of International Finance forum at Shanghai."The government is still using a managed floating exchange rate mechanism, Zhu said, adding that there is room for the government to increase the fiscal deficit this year from last year's 2.3% without providing specifics.

NYMEX crude drops in Asia with U.S. shale producers in focus

February 25 2016 

Category: Commodities


Crude oil prices fell in Asia on Thursday as marginal U.S. shale oil producers are in sharper focus for production or operations cuts.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for April delivery dropped 0.78% to $31.90 a barrel. Brent fell 1.10% to $34.03 a barrel.Overnight, crude futures ticked up on a volatile, choppy day of trading, as U.S. crude inventories rose less sharply than anticipated after a report from the American Petroleum Institute hours earlier raised expectations for a massive supply build.On the Intercontinental Exchange, Brent crude for April delivery traded between $32.38 and $34.50 a barrel, before closing at $34.42, up 1.15 or 3.46% on the session. North Brent Sea futures have rebounded by approximately 11% since dropping below $30 a barrel in mid-February.On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report that U.S. commercial crude inventories for the week ending on February 19 rose by 3.5 million barrels from the previous week.At 507.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are at historically high levels for this time of year. While the total slightly exceeded analysts' expectations for a 3.2 million build, it fell considerably below the API's estimates of a 7.1 million barrel increase on Tuesday evening.At the Cushing Oil Hub in Oklahoma, inventories rose by 333,000 barrels to surge above 65 million, reaching a fresh record-high. It marked the 15th build at the nation's largest storage facility in the last 16 weeks. Storage levels at Cushing, the main delivery point for Nymex oil, are dangerously close to reaching full-capacity.Meanwhile, crude production in the lower 48 states fell sharply by 196,000 barrels per day on the week representing the fifth straight week of declines. Overall, U.S. output dipped by 33,000 to 9.102 million bpd, also moving lower for the fifth consecutive weekly period. U.S. production continues remains far below its June level of 9.5 million bpd when it soared to its highest level in at least 40 years.Investors continued to digest bearish comments from Ali al-Naimi during the previous session, when the Saudi Arabian oil minister provided further assurances that the kingdom will under no circumstances slash its production levels, at least for the time being.Last week, Saudi Arabia, Russia and two other OPEC members agreed in principle to freeze their production at their respective January levels. The deal, though, is contingent on receiving cooperation from Iran, which has been resistant to cap output as it returns to global energy markets for the first time in nine years. Separately, Iran oil minister Bijan Zanganeh reportedly called the deal "a joke," on Tuesday, while blaming his rivals for placing "unrealistic demands," on his country.Also on Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell A (N:L:RDSa) announced that it is shutting down its shale resources unit while parting ways with U.S. country chairman Marvin Odum, as part of a comprehensive cost-cutting initiative in response to its worst year of revenues in more than a decade.A number of top oil and gas companies are reportedly teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, as oil hovers near its lowest level in more than a decade. Over the last 20 months, crude futures have plunged more than 70% from June, 2014 highs of $115 a barrel, amid a glut of oversupply on global markets.

Oil extends losses on Saudi remarks, bearish API report

February 24 2016 

Category: Commodities


Oil prices extended sharp losses from the prior session in Europe trade on Wednesday, after Saudi Arabia dashed hopes for collective production cuts and following bearish industry data on U.S. stockpiles.Crude oil for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed 64 cents, or 2.01%, to trade at $31.23 a barrel by 08:00GMT, or 3:00AM ET. A day earlier, New York-traded oil futures tumbled $1.52, or 4.55%.After markets closed Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said that U.S. oil inventories rose by 7.1 million barrels in the week ended February 19, disappointing market players who were expecting an increase of 3.0 million barrels.Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for WTI increased by 307,000 barrels, the API said, raising fears that the nation's largest storage facility is nearing full capacity.The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on oil supplies at 15:30GMT, or 10:30AM ET, Wednesday, amid expectations for a gain of 3.5 million barrels.U.S. oil prices are down nearly 17% so far this year as a domestic supply glut dragged down prices.Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for April delivery declined 35 cents, or 1.05%, to trade at $32.91 a barrel.On Tuesday, London-traded Brent futures slumped $1.42, or 4.09%, as hopes for a supply cut dimmed after Saudi Arabia and Iran dismissed the possibility of reducing or freezing output.Speaking before an audience at the CERAWeek 2016 Energy conference in Houston, Saudi Arabia oil minister Ali al-Naimi said that the kingdom will not lower production from its current levels, resisting calls to slash output in an effort to boost prices.Meanwhile, Iran made clear it has no interest in freezing production after sanctions against it were lifted, calling last week’s joint Russian/Saudi proposal for major exporters to cap output “ridiculous” and "laughable".Oil futures are down nearly 70% since the summer of 2014. Global crude production is outpacing demand following a boom in U.S. shale oil and after a decision by OPEC last year not to cut production in order to defend market share.Meanwhile, Brent's premium to the West Texas Intermediate crude contract stood at $1.68 a barrel, compared to a gap of $1.40 by close of trade on Tuesday.

European stocks open lower as oil continues to slide; Dax down 0.69%

February 24 2016 

Category: Stock Market


European stocks were lower on Wednesday, as declining oil prices continued to weigh on global equity markets.During European morning trade, the EURO STOXX 50 tumbled 1.03%, France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.88%, while Germany’s DAX 30 slid 0.69%.Oil prices slipped below $32 a barel on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said that production cuts "will not happen".Separately, Iran also said it had no interest in reducing production after international sanctions against it were lifted, calling a joint Russian/Saudi proposal for major exporters to freeze output "laughable"Energy-related stocks were broadly lower, as French oil and gas major Total SA (PA:TOTF) tumbled 1.02% and Italian rival ENI (MI:ENI) dropped 0.83%, while Norway’s Statoil plunged 4.13%.Financial stocks were also on the downside, as BNP Paribas (PA:BNPP) and Societe Generale (PA:SOGN) declined 0.82% and 0.86%, while Germany’s Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) and Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) plummeted 1.47% and 1.58%.Among peripheral lenders, Italy’s Unicredit (MI:CRDI) and Intesa Sanpaolo (MI:ISP) retreated 0.96% and 0.72% respectively, while Spanish banks Banco Santander (MC:SAN) and BBVA (MC:BBVA) fell 0.11% and 0.36%.Elsewhere, Peugeot SA (PA:PEUP) surged 3.92% after the French automaker swung to a full-year net profit in 2015 of €899 million compared to a loss the previous year.In London, commodity-heavy FTSE 100 dropped 0.57%, weighed by sharp losses in the mining sector.Shares in Rio Tinto (L:RIO) tumbled 2.37% and Bhp Billiton (L:BLT) plummeted 4.20%, while Anglo American (L:AAL) and Glencore (L:GLEN) plunged 4.45% and 4.52% respectively.Financial stocks added to losses, as Lloyds Banking (L:LLOY) slid 0.40% and Barclays (L:BARC) lost 1.39%, while the Royal Bank of Scotland (L:RBS) retreated 1.36%. HSBC Holdings (L:HSBA) held steady, with shares inching up just 0.02%.Meanwhile, Persimmon (L:PSN) remained one of the top performers on the index for a second consecutive session, with shares rallying 2.71% after the housebuilder reported a 34% climb in pre-tax profit in 2015 on Tuesday.Investors also continued to focus on discussions over a posssible British exit from the European Union, with a referendum set to be held on June 23.In the Bank of England’s Inflation Report hearings on Tuesday, BoE governor Mark Carney said that the central bank would treat the Brexit like any other political event.In the U.S., equity markets pointed to a to lower open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average futures pointed to a 0.11% fall, S&P 500 futures a 0.12% loss, while the Nasdaq 100 futures indicated a 0.22% slide.

Forex - Sterling falls below $1.40 as Brexit fears weigh

February 24 2016 

Category: Forex


The pound fell below $1.40 for the first time since March 2009 on Wednesday dragged lower by uncertainty over the outcome of the looming referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.GBP/USD hit lows of 1.3965, the weakest since mid-March 2009 and was last at 1.3985, off 0.24% for the day.The pound has come under heavy selling pressure amid fears over the impact on the economy if the outcome of the June 23 referendum leads to a “Brexit”.Sterling has now lost 2.9% this week after several senior members Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, said they were backing the campaign to leave the EU.The pound slid lower against the euro, with EUR/GBP edging up 0.13% to 0.7870, not far from the one-year high of 0.7897 set on February 11.Elsewhere, the safe haven yen remained supported as fresh falls in oil prices pulled down equity markets, dampening investor demand for riskier assets.Oil prices remained under pressure amid concerns about global oversupply after Saudi Arabia ruled out production cuts.USD/JPY fell to two-week lows of 111.63 overnight before pulling back to 112.13.The euro was trading at almost three-year lows against the Japanese currency, with EUR/JPY at 123.32.The euro slid to three-week lows against the dollar, with EUR/USD down 0.19% to 1.0997.The euro has weakened this week amid fears over the impact of a “Brexit” on the euro zone.The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was up 0.15% to 97.61.

Gold prices rise ahead of barrage of Fed speakers

February 24 2016 

Category: Commodities


Gold futures pushed higher in Europe trade on Wednesday, as market players awaited comments from a barrage of Federal Reserve officials later in the session for further clues on the path of future rate hikes.Gold for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange tacked on $4.60, or 0.38%, to trade at $1,227.20 a troy ounce by 09:15GMT, or 4:15AM ET.A day earlier, gold prices rallied $12.50, or 1.03%, as investors sought safer assets amid steep declines in oil prices and global stock markets.Gold traders looked ahead to speeches from three Fed officials on Wednesday to judge the balance of opinion among policymakers on the prospect of further rate hikes.Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker is scheduled to speak at 13:00GMT, or 8:00AM ET, while Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan is expected at 18:15GMT, or 13:15PM ET. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is scheduled to give remarks at 7:00PM ET.Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said Tuesday evening that it is "still early" to assess the implications of recent volatility in financial markets for the U.S. economy.Gold prices have been well-supported in recent weeks amid growing speculation the Fed could delay the pace of its tightening for the remainder of 2016.Prices of the yellow metal soared to a one-year high of $1,263.90 on February 11. Gold is up nearly 16% so far this year amid indications global economic and financial headwinds could make it tough for the Fed to raise interest rates as much as it would like this year.Also on the Comex, silver futures for March delivery dipped 3.0 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $15.21 a troy ounce during morning hours in London.Elsewhere in metals trading, copper futures declined on Wednesday, but losses were limited amid mounting expectations for further stimulus measures from central banks in Europe and Asia.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Fitbit shares plunge 13%, amid concerns with smartwatch launch

February 23 2016 

Category: Stock Market


Investing.com -- Shares in Fitbit Inc (N:FIT) plummeted 13% in after-hours trading in spite of stellar results last quarter, as the San Francisco-based manufacturer of wearable devices attempt to downplay significant concerns with the launch of its new smartwatch.During the fourth quarter of 2015, Fitbit finished with revenues of $711.6 million, almost doubling its sales from the same period a year earlier. The company also reported earnings of $64.2 million, after selling more than eight million fitness tracking devices during the quarter. By comparison, Fitbit reported net profits of $39.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, after shipping approximately 5.3 million devices.On an adjusted earnings per share basis, excluding one-time items, Fitbit's profits increased to 0.35, up from 0.21 a year ago. Fitbit projected adjusted per share earnings between 0.20 and 0.25 on revenue between $620 and $650 million.“We believe we are beginning 2016 with strong customer engagement and retention, an accelerating pace of innovation and competitive differentiation, and a foundation of significant revenue growth and profitability in 2015,” said James Park, Fitbit co-founder and CEO. “I am very optimistic about our growth opportunities and long-term vision as a broader digital health company.Investors, however, continue to express worries related to Fitbit's long-term growth potential, ahead of its rollout of its Blaze smartwatch next month. At $200 per unit, the watch is considerably less expensive than Apple (O:AAPL)'s $350 iWatch sport and Android's Moto 360. Fitbit attempted to allay such concerns by informing shareholders on Monday that the current total of pre-orders has already eclipsed company projections. Last week, pre-order volume for the Blaze ranked second in Amazon (O:AMZN)'s list of top selling smartwatches over $100, Fitbit said in a statement.Moving forward, Fitbit said it expects per share earnings to range between flat and 0.02 in the first quarter with revenues in between $420 and $440 million. On an annual basis, the company anticipates reporting per share earnings in between 1.08 and 1.20 on revenues in between $2.4 and $2.5 billion. Analysts, meanwhile, expect the company to report earnings of 0.23 per share for the second quarter on revenues of $484.6 million.Fitbit shares plunged 2.28 or 13.83% in after-hours trading.

NYMEX crude drops in Asia with API estimates ahead

February 23 2016 

Category: Commodities


Crude oil dipped in Asia on Tuesday ahead of industry estimates of U.S. stockpiles later in the day.The American Petroleum Institute will release estimates of crude and refined product stockpiles in the U.S. last week later Tuesday. On Wednesday, more closely-watched figures from the U.S. Department of Energy are due.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for April delivery fell 0.36% to $33.27 a barrel.Overnight, crude futures pared some gains after soaring as much as 6% on Monday, as the International Energy Agency estimated sharp declines in U.S. production through 2017 in its latest forecast.On the Intercontinental Exchange, Brent crude for April delivery traded between $32.84 and $34.97 a barrel, before closing at $34.74, up 1.73 or 5.24% on the session. With the sharp gains, brent futures halted a three-day losing streak. After dipping below $30 a barrel in mid-February, North Brent Sea futures have rallied more than 13%.Meanwhile, the spread between the international and U.S. domestic benchmarks of crude stood at $1.35, slightly above Friday's level of $1.28 at the close.Investors on Monday reacted to a bullish report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicted that U.S. crude production will continue to slide as prices hover near record-lows.In its 2016 Medium-Term Oil Market Report, the IEA said that U.S. light, thick oil (LTO) will fall 600,000 barrels per day this year, before declining by another 200,000 bpd in 2017, when at which point the markets will start rebalancing. By 2021, however, the IEA expects the U.S. to lead the world in production increases when it anticipates that total U.S. liquid production will rise by 1.3 million bpd in comparison with its 2015 level.Domestic crude production in the U.S. fell sharply by 51,000 barrels per day to 9.135 million bpd for the week ending on Feb. 12, representing its fourth consecutive week of weekly declines. It also marked the second straight week that output fell below the 9.2 million bpd threshold. Last June, U.S. weekly production surged above 9.5 bpd to reach its highest level in more than 40 years."Anybody who believes that we have seen the last of rising LTO production in the United States should think again," the IEA said in the report. "Such has been the element of surprise provided by the resilience of US oil production, and the wide divergence of views as to the future, that we have added a High and Low Case to our non-OPEC production analysis and plotted the impact on the global oil market balance of US LTO production falling by more than in our base case or, conversely, less."Investors also await an appearance by Saudi Arabia oil minister Ali Al-Naimi on Tuesday in Houston for further indications on whether OPEC could strike its first deal with non-OPEC producers in 15 years. Last week, Saudi Arabia and three other OPEC members reached a deal with Russia in principle to freeze their production at January levels. The deal requires the support of Iran, which is in favor of production freezes by its rivals, but has been hesitant to limit their own output until it returns to pre-sanction levels from 2007.Crude prices have crashed by more than 60% over the last 15 months since OPEC rattled global markets with a strategic decision to leave its production ceiling above 30 million bpd at a meeting in November, 2014. The tactic triggered a prolonged battle between Saudi Arabia and U.S. shale producers for market share, saturating global energy markets with a glut of oversupply.

Gold prices gained in Asia as Fed views on rates assessed

February 23 2016 

Category: Commodities


Gold gained in Asia on Tuesday with sentiment on expectations for the path of U.S. interest rates this year they key focus.On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for April delivery rose 0.57% to $1,217.10 a troy ounce.Silver futures for March delivery gained 0.50% to $15.260 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery eased 0.61% to $2.102 a pound.Overnight, gold plummeted more than 1% on Monday amid a broadly stronger dollar, as investors continued to digest strong U.S. inflation data from late last week that could bolster the prospects for an interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve in the coming months.Investors on Monday continued to react to solid U.S. inflation January figures released last week when the Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) accelerated at its highest pace in four years. The Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, increased by 1.4% from the prior 12 months last month, rising 0.7% from already strong gains in December. It came as the services component soared 3.0%, due to robust gains in medical care and prescription drug prices, as well as rent and owners' equivalent rent.The data likely appeased hawkish members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), who are in favor of hiking interest rates several times in 2016. Last month, the FOMC considered slowing its pace of tightening, amid persistently sluggish inflation. Long-term inflation has remained under the FOMC's targeted objective of 2% for every month over the last three years. Following the strong inflation data, the CME Group's (O:O:CME) Fed Watch tool increased the probability of a single rate hike by the end of its December meeting to 33.2% in Monday's session. A month earlier, the odds of one rate hike in 2016 stood at 23.7%.Any rate hikes this year are viewed as bearish for gold, which struggles to compete with high-yield bearing assets in rising rate environments.Also on Monday, traders reacted to the increased likelihood that the U.K. could leave the European Union early this summer, when Britain holds a referendum on its membership in the EU on June 23. On Friday, British prime minister David Cameron reached a deal with leaders from the EU, which provided the U.K. with special status in the European bloc and cleared the way for a vote. Over the weekend, however, London mayor Boris Johnson shockingly backed the so-called "Brexit," declaring the referendum a "vote for real change."

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Natural gas futures - weekly outlook: February 22 - 26

February 21 2016 

Category: Commodities


U.S. natural gas futures crashed to two-month lows on Friday, as forecasts calling for less cold in the U.S. northeast over the next two weeks weighed.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March hit an intraday low of $1.794 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since December 21, before recovering slightly to close at $1.804, down 4.8 cents, or 2.59%.Meanwhile, the more actively-traded April contract slumped 6.0 cents, or 3.11%, to finish at $1.867 by close of trade.For the week, natural gas futures lost 14.8 cents, or 8.24%, the third straight weekly decline, on expectations of continued mild demand.Updated weather forecasting models continued to point to higher-than-normal temperatures later in February and in early March, dampening late-winter heating demand expectations.The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.Natural gas prices tumbled nearly 5% on Thursday after weekly storage data pointed to a widening supply glut. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 158 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 154 billion.That compared with draws of 70 billion cubic feet in the prior week, 110 billion cubic feet in the same week last year and a five-year average of around 176 billion.Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.706 trillion cubic feet, 19.7% higher than levels at this time a year ago and 20.5% above the five-year average for this time of year.Some market experts worry there may be too much gas left in storage at the end of March when utilities traditionally start injecting the fuel back into storage for the next winter.The EIA's next storage report is due on Thursday, February 25. Inventories fell by 220 billion cubic feet in the same week last year, while the five-year average change for the week is a drawdown of 137 billion cubic feet.Natural gas futures are down nearly 23% so far this year as a warmer-than-normal winter due to the El Niño weather pattern has limited the amount of heating days and reduced demand for the fuel.Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for March delivery settled at $29.64 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, up 20 cents, or 0.67%, on the week, while heating oil for March delivery slumped 4.1% on the week to settle at $1.025 per gallon.

NYMEX crude gaisn in Asia on U.S. rig count drop

February 22 2016 

Category: Commodities


Crude oil prices gained in Asia on Monday with the front-month contract up following a drop in U.S. drilling activity last week.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in March gained 0.85% to $32.02 a barrel.Last week, oil prices fell sharply on Friday, as market players continued to focus on a global supply glut and amid doubts over the likelihood of a collective cut happening anytime soon.On Friday, consultant Baker Hughes said the U.S. rig count fell by 26 to 413 in the week ended Feb. 19.But the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday that U.S. crude stockpiles increased by 2.1 million barrels last week to an all-time high of 504.1 million barrels, underlining concerns over a domestic supply glut.Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude, rose by 36,000 barrels last week, raising fears that the nation's largest storage facility is nearing full capacity.Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for April delivery slumped $1.27, or 3.7%, on Friday to close the week at $33.01 a barrel.On the week, London-traded Brent futures declined 35 cents, or 1.04%, the third consecutive weekly drop. Futures were up as much as 14% earlier in the week on Saudi Arabia and Russia's agreement to freeze output at January levels.Brent prices pushed lower on Friday as investors expressed skepticism that the deal could be completed. While Iran oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said that he supported any measure that would help stabilize global oil markets, he stopped short of committing to a freeze in Iranian production, raising the question of whether the agreed parties will stay committed to the plan.Brent prices are down almost 12% in 2016 as investors worried that a huge oversupply in crude was coinciding with a global economic slowdown.Oil futures are down nearly 70% since the summer of 2014. Global crude production is outpacing demand following a boom in U.S. shale oil and after a decision by OPEC last year not to cut production in order to defend market share.

Shanghai shares gain as China reshuffles top stock regulator post

February 22 2016 

Category: Stock Market


Shares in Shanghain gained on Monday after China reshuffled the leadership of the stock market regulator,The Shanghai Composite gained 1.00% at the open while the Nikkei 225 rose 1.19%.On Saturday, China dismissed Chairman Xiao Gang from his post at the China Securities Regulatory Commission and replaced by Liu Shiyu, chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China, likely in response to the failure of the stock market's circuit breaker mechanism.The move came as specualtion grows the People's Bank of China will seek a cut in the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) in the medium-term as daily short-term open market operations are seen as inadequate to stabilize market expectations.Also on the weekend, China announced changes to its consumer price basket, lowering the weighting for food, tobacco and alcohol by 3.4 percentage points while increasing that of other goods to reflect new consumption patterns.In the week ahead, investors will be looking to Friday’s revised data on U.S. fourth quarter gross domestic product for a fresh reading on the strength of the economy.Reports on U.S. durable goods orders and consumer confidence will also be in focus.On Monday, the euro zone is to release survey data on manufacturing and service sector activity. Germany and France are also to release individual reports.Last week, U.S. stocks were mixed after the close on Friday, as gains in the Consumer Services, Technology and Financials sectors led shares higher while losses in the Basic Materials, Telecoms and Utilities sectors led shares lower.At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.13%, while the S&P 500 index declined 0.01%, and the NASDAQ Composite index climbed 0.38%.

Ohio man sentenced to 108 months for role in Costa Rica sweepstakes scam

February 20 2016

Category:
Investing.com -- An Ohio man was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison for a money laundering conviction stemming from his role in a Costa Rica-based sweepstakes scam that targeted elderly residents in the U.S., the Department of Justice announced on Friday.Paul Toth, 41, of Wintersville, Ohio, was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Court judge Robert Conrad in the Western District of North Carolina and was ordered to pay more than $307,000 in restitution. In August, Toth was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering. According to evidence presented at the trial, Toth's co-conspirators in Costa Rica posed as federal agents, who convinced the elderly victims that they had won a large prize in a sweepstakes contest. The victims, a husband and wife over the age of 55, were told by Toth's co-conspirators that they needed to wire thousands of dollars to Costa Rica to fulfill a "refundable insurance fee."Toth, according to court filings, operated as a U.S.-based “smasher,” who arranges picked up ill-gotten victims’ funds and brought it to a fraudulent telemarketing organization, which completed the process of laundering the money out of the country.According to an October, 2014 indictment, Toth collected more than $300,000 in unlawful funds and distributed $200,000 through Western Union wire transfers during a period between November, 2009 and November, 2010. Toth allegedly worked with Christopher Lee Griffin, a defendant who is facing charges on telemarketing fraud. Toth was able to keep the remaining $100,000 as profit.The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Homeland Security.Federal prosecutors in the Western District of North Carolina have convicted more than 45 defendants in cases related to sweepstakes fraud, dating back to last June.

Saudi Arabia stocks lower at close of trade; Tadawul All Share down 0.06%

February 21 2016

Category: Stock Market
Saudi Arabia stocks were lower after the close on Sunday, as losses in the Media&Publishing, Transport and Petrochemicals sectors led shares lower.At the close in Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul All Share declined 0.06%.The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication (SE:7040), which rose 10.26% or 0.40 points to trade at 4.30 at the close. Meanwhile, BURUJ COOPERATIVE INSURANCE CO (SE:8270) added 10.00% or 1.55 points to end at 17.05 and Takween Advanced Industries (SE:1201) was up 9.81% or 1.80 points to 20.15 in late trade.The worst performers of the session were Dur Hospitality (SE:4010), which fell 4.50% or 1.10 points to trade at 23.35 at the close. Saudi Marke (SE:4006) declined 4.20% or 2.00 points to end at 45.60 and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company (SE:2350) was down 4.04% or 0.20 points to 4.75.Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 103 to 45 and 19 ended unchanged.Crude oil for April delivery was down 2.98% or 0.98 to $31.95 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in April fell 3.44% or 1.18 to hit $33.10 a barrel, while the April Gold contract rose 0.02% or 0.30 to trade at $1226.60 a troy ounce.EUR/SAR was up 0.19% to 4.1743, while USD/SAR fell 0.02% to 3.7502.The US Dollar Index was down 0.23% at 96.62.

Natural gas futures - weekly outlook: February 22 - 26

February 21 2016

Category: Commodities
U.S. natural gas futures crashed to two-month lows on Friday, as forecasts calling for less cold in the U.S. northeast over the next two weeks weighed.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March hit an intraday low of $1.794 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since December 21, before recovering slightly to close at $1.804, down 4.8 cents, or 2.59%.Meanwhile, the more actively-traded April contract slumped 6.0 cents, or 3.11%, to finish at $1.867 by close of trade.For the week, natural gas futures lost 14.8 cents, or 8.24%, the third straight weekly decline, on expectations of continued mild demand.Updated weather forecasting models continued to point to higher-than-normal temperatures later in February and in early March, dampening late-winter heating demand expectations.The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.Natural gas prices tumbled nearly 5% on Thursday after weekly storage data pointed to a widening supply glut. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 158 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 154 billion.That compared with draws of 70 billion cubic feet in the prior week, 110 billion cubic feet in the same week last year and a five-year average of around 176 billion.Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.706 trillion cubic feet, 19.7% higher than levels at this time a year ago and 20.5% above the five-year average for this time of year.Some market experts worry there may be too much gas left in storage at the end of March when utilities traditionally start injecting the fuel back into storage for the next winter.The EIA's next storage report is due on Thursday, February 25. Inventories fell by 220 billion cubic feet in the same week last year, while the five-year average change for the week is a drawdown of 137 billion cubic feet.Natural gas futures are down nearly 23% so far this year as a warmer-than-normal winter due to the El Niño weather pattern has limited the amount of heating days and reduced demand for the fuel.Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for March delivery settled at $29.64 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, up 20 cents, or 0.67%, on the week, while heating oil for March delivery slumped 4.1% on the week to settle at $1.025 per gallon.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Shares in Sydney hold steady with China, Japan markets shut for holiday

February 11 2016 
Category: Stock Market


Shares in Sydney held largely steady to slightly higher on Thursday with markets in China and Japan shut for holidays.The S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.04%.In Australia, MI annual trimmed mean inflation views for February held steady at 3.6% from January.U.S. stocks were mixed in Wednesday's session, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Composite index closed lower following a late sell-off in the final minutes.The major indices appeared to be headed for a relatively flat session after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen soothed markets by providing few indications on the timing of the Fed's next interest rate move in guarded testimony before Capitol Hill.While Yellen noted on Wednesday that widespread market volatility and a weak dollar continued to pose growth risks to the U.S. economy, she appeared confident that inflation will move back toward the Fed's targeted goal of 2%, while reiterating that the labor market is close to full employment.Yellen's semi-annual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee could be interpreted as neither dovish, nor hawkish, providing further ambiguity on whether the Fed will raise short-term interest rates before the end of the summer.The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 99.64 or 0.62% to 15,914.74, while the NASDAQ Composite index ticked up 14.83 or 0.35% to 4,283.59, halting a four-day losing streak. The Dow fell by more than 135 points in the final hour of trading. U.S. stocks have come under intense downside pressure in recent days from crashing oil prices, as well as a rout among banking stocks in Europe that has dragged down equity markets and government bond yields throughout the euro zone.The S&P 500, meanwhile, inched down 0.35 or 0.02% to 1,851.86, as seven of 10 sectors closed in the red. Stocks in the Technology, Health Care and Consumer Services sectors led, while stocks in the Energy and Basic Materials industries lagged each falling by more than 0.5%.

Malaysian industrial production 2.7% vs. 0.8% forecast

February 11 2016 
Category: Economic Indicators


Industrial production in Malaysia rose unexpectedly last month, official data showed on Thursday.In a report, Department of Statistics Malaysia said that Malaysian Industrial Production rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.7%, from 1.8% in the preceding month.Analysts had expected Malaysian Industrial Production to fall to 0.8% l