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Forex Report: Dollar rallies on Yellen news and pound slides on weak industrial data

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BRIEF: Write a 500-word report on moves in the global forex market in recent days and the factors that may have influenced those moves. Also include a reference to factors likely to affect the forex market in the next few days. Focus on major currencies. Time: 2.5 hours including research

The dollar index strengthened on the back of increased risk appetite as news broke that the President has backed Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve, yet the greenback is still at an eight month low due to the ongoing budget crisis.

Yellen, currently second in charge at the U.S. central bank, will take over from Ben Bernanke on January 31st 2014. She is expected to maintain the accommodative monetary stance adopted by her predecessor. The former frontrunner Larry Summers, perceived to favour early tapering of quantitative easing, ruled himself out of contention last month.

In Wednesday’s trading, the dollar rose 0.4 per cent against the yen but remained flat against the euro at $1.3574.

The dollar’s safe-haven status has been in question as a result of the U.S.’s fiscal impasse. Investors looking to de-risk are currently backing the yen.

“It might be counterintuitive that the dollar rose on news that a dove is likely to be the next head of the Fed, but the news itself removed some of the uncertainty, and therefore contributed to risk-on sentiment,” said Ayako Sera, market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, to Reuters.

In spite of the aggressive monetary easing employed by Japan’s Abenomics programme, the U.S.’s uncertain outlook has seen the yen appreciate against the dollar in past months. Nonetheless, the minor 1.56 per cent appreciation over the previous three months compares with a 19.7 percent depreciation over the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, sterling fell to a two week low after industrial production figures fell well below analyst estimates. Earlier in the week, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) doubled the UK’s 2013 growth forecasts. However, today’s ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures show a decline in manufacturers’ output of 1.2 per cent versus an anticipated 0.4 per cent increase. The pound is down against all major currencies including a -0.9 per cent decline against the dollar.

Looking ahead, markets will be awaiting the release of FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes from last month’s meeting. It was widely anticipated that the Fed would announce tapering of its bond purchasing operations, which currently stands at $85bn a month. When this failed to materialize, markets reacted frantically with the Dow rising 147 points on the day. Numerous factors could explain Bernanke’s decision- principal among these is the government shutdown- but traders will be anxious to find out exactly what influenced the committee’s decision. The minutes will be published today, 2pm Eastern time.

Overall, currency movements are set to remain constrained amidst protracted U.S. negotiations.

“We are definitely waiting for an end to the US shutdown. I think Thursday 17th is ‘d-day’ where they’ve got to come up with a solution before they default on the debt but markets are definitely in wait and see mode. Most clients are holding only very light positions at the moment,” said David Massey, an RBS forex analyst.

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Euro strengthens in anticipation of ECB rate hike

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BRIEF: EUR/USD is 1.3664, down 0.95 per cent on the day- was 1.3794 at the previous close. THEN, JUST NOW, a short statement has been issued by the ECB

In the light of the latest implementation of austerity measures by Greece and agreement by euro zone finance minister to write off a further portion of Greece’s debt, the ECB expects some slight increase in upside risk to inflation. Thus the next move in interest rates is expected to be upwards.

After the statement, the euro is trading at $1.3910 = a rise of 1.8 per cent since the announcement

150 words. Time: 20 minutes

 

The euro leapt 1.8 per cent against the dollar on news that the ECB (European Central Bank) is likely to raise interest rates.

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to take a more lenient stance on Greek debt repayment after concerns surrounding the country’s latest round of austerity measures. The ECB is expected to raise rates to combat increased inflationary risk.

After a weak start to the day, the euro is currently trading at $1.3910, up from $1.3794 at the previous close.

Cypriot finance minister: “We have exited the danger zone.”

Cyprus Airport Sits Abandoned in UN Buffer Zone
BRIEF: Write a news story of about 200 words for the FT based on this material (sources at bottom of page). Today is 31 July 2013.

Time: 45 minutes including research. 

Cyprus’ banking sector appears to be entering recovery, as latest figures show better than expected progress in light of the country’s recent financial crisis.

The troubled state is expected to struggle with austerity measures aimed at reaching a budget surplus of 4 per cent of GDP in 2018. Estimates suggest that Cypriot GDP will fall 13 per cent over the next two years but initial progress is positive according to the finance minister Harris Georgiades.

“The worst is behind us as far as the banking system is concerned, we have exited the danger zone and we are into a stabilization zone.”

In March, Cyprus received an emergency €10bn loan from the Troika (EU, ECB and IMF) to help recapitalize the banking sector.

As part of the deal, the nation’s second largest bank, Laiki, was shut down whilst the largest bank, Bank of Cyprus, forced a 47.5 per cent haircut on uninsured depositors. The bailout fund was also conditional on improvements to anti-money laundering measures and fiscal discipline.

The IMF is currently in the process of publishing its first review of the bailout programme. Delia Velculescu, mission chief for Cyprus said: “This review found the programme to be on track, with authorities having made good progress towards meeting their objectives.”

ENDS

SOURCES:

This is from the official Cyprus News Agency.

“The worst is behind us as far as the banking system is concerned, we have exited the danger zone and we are into a stabilization zone,” Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said at a workshop on hydrocarbons and sustainable development in Nicosia today.

And …

“This review found the programme to be on track, with authorities having made good progress towards meeting their objectives,” IMF mission chief Delia Velculescu said today during a conference call at the end of a mission to Cyprus.

Greek coalition locked in austerity talks

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BRIEF: 
Read the text below (see bottom of page) and write a news story as if the news has just broken. Bring in key background and improve the language. 100 words, 20 minutes. Date is Friday, 21 September 2012.

“Greek coalition locked in austerity talks”
-by Tom Davies

Greece’s Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is still engaged with party leaders over final changes to the country’s proposed spending cuts.

The coalition government is required to reduce the budget deficit by an additional 2.0-2.5 billion euros before the proposals will be accepted by the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund).

There are still lingering concerns that further cuts will have a considerable effect on welfare. The Finance Minister said that “negotiations were difficult” and he was looking to minimize the social costs inflicted on the “poorer strata”.

ENDS

SOURCES:

‘Negotiations continuing’, Finmin says after coalition leaders meet

Friday, 21 September 2012 – Emerging from a meeting between the three party leaders supporting the coalition government, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday confirmed that negotiations with Greece’s creditors are continuing.

Stournaras said that a large part of the austerity package demanded of Greece had been agreed but there were still reservations surrounding certain of the proposed measures, chiefly to do with modernising the state, that had not yet been resolved.
“The negotiation is difficult. We are doing everything possible to minimise the social cost, especially for the poorer strata,” the minister said, expressing hope that the package of measures will soon be finalised.
(Previously the same day)

FinMin briefs PM ahead of coalition leaders’ meeting

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras opined on Thursday that discussions for the finalization of the government’s package of austerity measures would continue for a few more days before final agreement is reached on the package 11.9 billion euro cuts in state spending, and estimated the shortfall between the measures proposed and those demanded by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika at 2.0-2.5 billion euros.

Stournaras was speaking to reporters after he and the government’s economic staff briefed prime minister Antonis Samaras of the finance minister’s talks with the Troika on Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled meeting of the leaders of the three parties — PM and New Democracy (ND) leader Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis — for continued talks for the finalization of the measures.
The finance minister is due to meet later at the ministry with main opposition SYRIZA officials Yiannis Dragassakis and Efklides Tsakalotos to brief them on the ongoing negotiations with the Troika.

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