The MasterCharts: September 2010
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Friday, September 17, 2010

CNBC Market Blah, Blah ..Friday Look Ahead: Tech a Focus for Stocks Friday, as Gold Dazzles Investors

Friday Look Ahead: Tech a Focus for Stocks Friday, as Gold Dazzles Investors

Published: Thursday, 16 Sep 2010 | 9:10 PM E
By: Patti Domm
CNBC Executive Editor
Some good news from the tech sector could be a positive for stocks Friday.
Outside the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan.
Photo: Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
Outside the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan.

Both Oracle and Research in Motion reported strong earnings after Thursday's bell. Separately, Texas Instruments boosted its $0.12 dividend by a penny and said it would buy back another $7.5 billion shares. All three stocks were higher in after-hours trading.
Stocks Friday morning could feel the effect of the quadruple expiration of futures and options. Traders expect the expiration to be low key at the open, and if anything, the impact should be slightly positive.
CPI, at 8:30 a.m., is expected to show a 0.3 percent increase in August consumer prices. Consumer sentiment is expected to improve slightly to a reading of 70, from 68.9 last month, but economists say the strong performance of the stock market this month could push that number a bit higher. August's sentiment reading was the second lowest of the year. Consumer sentiment is released at 9:55 a.m.
Stocks drifted on both sides of the unchanged mark Thursday. The Dow ended up 22 at 10,594, and the S&P 500 was off less than a half point at 1124.  The dollar weakened against the euro, and dollar/yen was barely changed after the Bank of Japan intervened to curb the yen's rise Wednesday.
"This intervention might have higher chances of succeeding, assuming we continue to see relatively acceptable U.S. economic data. That's the critical thing," said Boris Schlossberg of GFT Forex. "...as long as the idea of double dip keeps receding, Treasury yields should stabilize and go back up and that will be critical to dollar/yen."
On the other hand, if we see the 10-year yield move to 2.5 percent, or dip below 2.5 percent, I don't think any amount of money will stem the (dollar) decline," he said.
Barry Knapp, chief equities portfolio strategist at Barclay's, said the initial stock market reaction after a big intervention is often a short-term decline. "For the first couple of days, the market goes down a little bit..the first reaction is to look at the dollar," he said.
The view is "if the dollar is going up, that's bad for earnings, so sell it. Dollar's going down, that's good. That's a very simplistic approach. I don't think it's right at all," he said. "If you look back at 2003, when the Japanese were intervening dramatically, the initial reaction was that the stock market sold off, and then it regained its footing."
Knapp said the intervention at that time was about $360 billion, and he estimated this round could total $250 billion. The BOJ was reported to have bought more than $20 billion Wednesday.
"If somebody puts $250 billion into the markets, event though that money won't be buying riskier assets, it can trigger an effect," he said.
The impact on Treasurys could also be noticeable, he said. Traders have been speculating the Japanese will park their dollar holdings in shorter duration Treasurys. "Initially the Treasury curve steepens, but then that tends to drive investors who were in 2s and 5s to extend out the curve and it starts to flatten. Then it triggers a whole position rebalancing."
All that Glitters
Gold continued to dazzle investors Thursday, scoring its second record settlement of the week. Investors are betting it could try to break the $1,300 level, maybe even as early as next week depending on the outcome of the Fed's meeting Tuesday.  Gold Thursday rose about a half percent to settle at $1273.80.
Gold has faced some high-profile criticism this week, including from investor George Soros who called it a bubble. "If you think about a world where every major country is trying to find a way to devalue its currency, gold looks pretty good in that environment. Personally I think the dollar is going down more. There's lots of reasons why gold will continue to rise. I don't know if I'd buy it, but I know I wouldn't short it," Knapp said.
 http://www.cnbc.com/id/39223276

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A 7 Million Increase In US Population Results In A Labor Force... Decline? Why The US Has Really Lost 11.2 Million Jobs This Recession

A 7 Million Increase In US Population Results In A Labor Force... Decline? Why The US Has Really Lost 11.2 Million Jobs This Recession

Links:
[1] http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/Population Growth and Labor Force_1.jpg
[2] http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/Population Growth and Labor Force 2.jpg

A 7 Million Increase In US Population Results In A Labor Force... Decline? Why The US Has Really Lost 11.2 Million Jobs This Recession

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Demonised ‘algos’ push the surge in FX trading - FT.com

Oh, poor "Demonized Algos" !!!

Demonised ‘algos’ push the surge in FX trading

By Jennifer Hughes, Senior Markets Correspondent
Published: September 1 2010 00:04 | Last updated: September 1 2010 00:04
Since the infamous stock market “flash crash” of May 6, high-frequency, or algorithmic, trading has been unwillingly dragged into the political and regulatory limelight.
forex-trading-graphicSo far, however, attention has focused on the role of these high-speed traders in the equity market. Outside the glare of that publicity, it is less well known that on May 7, FX trading volumes reached records, straining the plumbing of these markets.
Some participants argue these strains were partially caused by algorithmic, or algo, traders.
Exactly how much of this can be attributed to algo trading is unclear. However, there is no question that high-frequency traders are a fast-increasing force in FX markets, which is sparking a fierce debate as to their value to the market.
On Tuesday, the Bank for International Settlements reported that average daily turnover in the FX market has jumped 20 per cent in the past three years to $4,000bn a day. Its survey was taken in April, so missed the May spike, which related to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
The BIS-reported gains were led by a near 50 per cent leap in spot trading – deals for immediate delivery – to $1,500bn a day. This jump was powered by increased activity from “other financial institutions”, a group that includes hedge funds, pension funds, some banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and central banks. This will also include algos.
While all categories of “other” could have increased their trading, it is likely a significant proportion was driven by algo traders, who favour the deep, liquid spot markets and particularly currency pairs such as eurodollar and dollar-yen, which between them account for 42 per cent of all currency trading.
The question for the FX market is whether high-frequency dealers improve the market by adding liquidity, or whether they are instead merely price takers who contribute little.
“Algos have been demonised, but they’re an important part of the growth story,” says David Rutter chief executive of Icap Electronic Broking, which runs EBS, the main FX interbank trading platform. “What we’ve found is that they add pressure at each price point so that instead of getting big price gaps on shocking news, trade is more orderly.
“With FX, there are a lot of other flows such as global trade, so there is good underlying liquidity that the algos can enhance.”
Algos initially appeared in FX markets almost a decade ago, attracted by the deep liquidity and increasing use of electronic trading. They were generally welcomed, particularly by banks looking to build their prime brokerage businesses. However many banks soon grew disenchanted when they found the fast-moving shops were profiting from banks’ own slow systems by exploiting brief, tiny price differences between rival platforms.
Some banks went as far as ejecting offenders from their platforms but banks’ views have since become more nuanced. They have generally reached an accommodation, helped by technological improvements which make it easier to monitor client dealings and offer client-specific prices.
“The facts are that algos have made the markets more efficient and have helped ensure there’s one virtual price,” says Jeff Feig, global head of G10 FX at Citigroup. “They do cause banks to be smarter and we’ve had to work harder to be more efficient, but that’s ultimately to the advantage of the end user.
“I think that to some extent, algos have pushed banks and the result has been enhanced transparency and increased liquidity.”
Algos mean many different things in the FX market. While high-frequency traders are the best known – typified by one senior banker as “five smart guys in a room in New Jersey,” – banks are increasingly adept at developing their own algorithms to make their internal FX deals more efficient. These “internalisation” trades too will have provided a boost to the BIS numbers.
Most players say algos are now a fact of life in currency markets.
Unlike the equity market, which is split into hundreds of stocks, they believe the FX world’s focus on a relatively small number of currency pairs means it would be far harder for a single group of participants to move the market significantly, intentionally or otherwise, as some watchers fear happened during the “flash crash”.
“Also trading can happen anywhere there’s an electronic execution system and a volatile market,” says Alan Bozian a former FX banker and now chief executive of CLS Bank, the FX settlement system. “The question is, which markets adapt well and I don’t think it’s necessarily the stock market.”
FX markets have proved generally good at adapting. Systems such as CLS, introduced years before the financial crisis, have helped minimise settlement risk and since May, participants have been working again to improve their processing systems to cope with increased volume.
Significantly, for a market that is very much built around a hub of big banks, the BIS report showed that, for the first time, interaction of the main banks with “other” financial institutions overtook trading between themselves.
This could be a pointer to the market of the future, where banks are likely to remain the hub, but as much for their trade processing abilities as for their liquidity.
This would allow the winners to build profitable volume without taking on huge trading risks – suiting the current regulatory mood.
“The banks want to continue being the price providers, but they’re getting much more interested in the infrastructure and improving that,” says Mr Bozian. This evolution is likely to apply to high-frequency trading too.
Mr Rutter believes algos are only in their “late teens” in terms of development. “The early algo trading was about super-fast dealing and chasing inefficiencies. That’s largely gone,” he says.
“Now its about math and science being thrown at the market – there’s a rich pool of data and I think we’ll see algos evolve so its not just about milliseconds, but about longer-term predictive math.”
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