Economic Calendar

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FX Markets Choppy As Sovereign Debt Concerns Counter Optimism For US Data

Daily Forex Fundamentals | Written by AC-Markets | Jan 06 10 10:51 GMT |

News and Events:

Coming a day after yesterday's UK debt worries, European markets were given a fresh reminder of the fragile state of Greece's predicament as Reuters reported comments from ECB's Stark that the rest of the EU would not save Greece from its fiscal difficulties. These remarks have quickly been followed up by counter comments from Greece's Finance Minister Papaconstantinou; who strenuously denied that Greece needed a bailout, and added that Stark did not need to make the bailout comments at all. Despite this timely exercise in damage limitation from the Greek camp, it seems that lingering doubts about European sovereign debt never seem to settle for long before fresh headlines shake up the delicate balance of risk sentiment. Consequently, the USD (which tends to benefit from debt crisis headlines) and FX markets as a whole are left trading in a relatively choppy fashion as improving global data clashes with waves of risk aversion on unpredictable headlines. Credit ratings agencies are certainly being kept busy with ongoing issues in Greece and Dubai, the UK and Japan also toeing a fine line, and most recent news that Iceland has been downgraded to junk status by Fitch. The latest in development in the Icelandic saga is the refusal of President Olafur Grimsson to sign a bill that would obligate Iceland to repay UK and Dutch governments for depositor claims following the collapse of Landsbanki. The bill will now be put to a referendum, but with widespread opposition amongst the population, there is considerable risk that future IMF help is hampered by this vote, and indeed the likelihood of Iceland joining the EU seems far less probable than before. Against this backdrop of economic uncertainty, FX traders are also trying to reconcile analyst optimism for upcoming US data. Consensus for this Friday's Non-Farm Payrolls is for no change – which, if realized, would constitute the first non-negative change in payrolls since December 2007. Tonight's FOMC Minutes should give some further insight into whether market optimism is echoed by the voting members of the Fed, but at this juncture we feel it is unlikely the Fed will say anything drastically different from last meeting's minutes

Advanced Currency Markets - Forex Issues and Risks

Today Key Issues:

  • 10:00 EUR PPI, % m/m (y/y) Nov exp: 0.2 (-4.5) prev: 0.2 (-6.7)
  • 10:00 EUR Industrial orders, % m/m Oct exp: -1.0 prev: 1.7
  • 13:15 USD ADP private payrolls, chg, thous Dec exp: -75 prev: -169
  • 15:00 USD ISM non-manufacturing index Dec exp: 50.5 prev: 48.7
  • 19:00 USD FOMC minutes released 16-Dec

The Risk Today:

EurUsd Choppy and directionless trading prevails in EURUSD with the morning's plunge to 1.4284 lows now quickly reversed to put us firmly back in the ranges at 1.4375. Once again we are left eyeing topside resistance ahead of 1.4500, and beyond there the major hurdles at 1.4600 and 1.4685. If we look on the daily chart, there is a flag formation being carved out with downside support currently coming in around 1.4280 (coinciding with today's lows), and if breached we can expect a continuation of the downtrend that has been in play since 4th Dec (break f the 12-minth uptrend). It may be a difficult move lower however with support lying in wait at 1.4244 (200 day moving average), and range lows at 1.4210.

GbpUsd Yesterday's bout of GBPUSD weakness breached the lower end of the prior 1.6050-1.6250 range, and the break below 1.6000 now leaves the pair vulnerable to a revisit of 1.5833 (Dec 30 lows). If we re-enter the range, the 200-day movig average at 1.6100 forms first area of good supply, and beyond there expect prior resistance levels to still be in play: 1.6248 (Dec 18 highs), followed by 1.6323 (100 day moving average), and above there the 1.6400 psychological barrier.

UsdJpy After a quick visit to 91.26 lows yesterday (just above 91.10 support), USDJPY has been well bid back above the 92.00 level, and looks like we will remain rangebound between 93.22 (22 Dec high) and the 91.10 lows. A break below 91.10 would indicate a resumption of the larger downtrend that has been in play since mid 2007, but for now, look for bids ahead of 91.10, and plenty of offers around 93.00-20 zone to contain the pair. Only a daily close above the 93 handle would suggest a further move higher.

UsdChf Range-trading prevails in USDCHF between 1.0280 and 1.0425, but the break above the 100-day moving average (1.0301 currently) does seem to favour further USD strength from here. Next levels to watch outside the range are 1.0508 key high and beyond there the 1.0700 major resistance (38.2% correction of the move from 1.1970 down to 0.9918). Near term support stands at 1.0320 ahead of 1.0220.

S: Strong, M: Minor, T: Trendline, K: Keylevel, P: Pivot


Disclaimer: This report has been prepared by AC Markets (thereof ACM) and is solely been published for informational purposes and is not to be construed as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any currency or any other financial instrument. Views expressed in this report may be subject to change without prior notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by Salesperson or Traders of ACM at any given time. ACM is under no obligation to update or keep current the information herein, the report should not be regarded by recipients as a substitute for the exercise of their own judgment.


European Services Continue The Progress

Daily Forex Fundamentals | Written by | Jan 06 10 10:41 GMT |

Following the improvement witnessed by the manufacturing sector in the euro zone and U.K., the services sector, the leading sector in Europe, completed the progress scenario that started since the second quarter of 2009.

Today, PMI services final reading for December in the euro area climbed to 53.6 from 53.0 in November. Although the reading came below estimates, but it continued its rise above 50 level, providing further clues the economy is growing in the fourth quarter.

Services in the 16-nation economy were lifted by the rise in the largest economy in the region. German services soared to 52.7 from 51.4 in November; Italian PMI spiked to 53.9 from 49.8 a month earlier. On the other hand, the reading slipped in France to 58.7 in from 60.9 in November.

Yesterday, PMI manufacturing for December rose to 51.6 from 51.2 in November. Consequently, PMI composite spiked to 54.7 from 53.7. The European economy is gathering strength clearing the way for a recovery in 2010.

In the third quarter of 2009, the economy grew 0.4% compared with 0.2% and 2.4% contractions recorded in the second and first quarters respectively, thanks to the monetary and fiscal measures adopted by the ECB and national European governments to revive the economy.

Trichet and his economic team slashed the cost of borrowing to 1% and introduced 60 billion euros spent on purchasing euro-denominated bonds. In addition, they offered to lend banks as much money as they need at the current benchmark.

It is reasonable to say that the strong interventions boosted the economy that posted very weak data in the first quarter of 2009. However, sooner or later the stimulus packages will be withdrawn and the economy will rely solely on itself. Thus, the euro area may witness volatility this year before reaching full recovery in 2011, according to the EU Commission.

In the U.K., services tracked the progress in manufacturing; empowering the claims that the economy will emerge from recession in the fourth quarter. The British economy eased the pace of contraction in the third quarter to 0.2% from 0.6% contraction in the second quarter.

Tomorrow, BoE members will meet to set the interest rate and the amount of the APF program. The borrowing cost and the quantity of APF may remain unchanged in January, before a possible change that might take place in February when releasing the new quarterly growth and inflation reports.

All 9 MPC members at the BoE voted unanimously (9-0) for keeping both interest rate and APF unchanged from November. The benchmark was left at 0.5%, while the APF quantity stagnated at 200 billion pounds; however, some analysts are predicting another increase in the amount of the APF program to 215 billion pounds proposed by Miles in November.

The British economy, although improved remarkably recently, it is still lagging behind the euro zone; therefore, the economy may need another boost to accelerate the recovery that is expected to be sluggish in 2010.


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Forex Technical Analysis

Daily Forex Technicals | Written by DeltaStock Inc. | Jan 06 10 10:01 GMT |


Current level-1.4343

EUR/USD is in a downtrend, after peaking at1.5146 (Nov.25,2009). Technical indicators are neutral, and trading is situated between the 50- and 200-Day SMA, currently projected at 1.4793 and 1.4169.

While 1.4257 is intact, the overall bias will remain neutral in the 1.4216-1.4500 range. Nevertheless we feel, that there is a chance for one last upswing to 1.4670 resistance, as the pair will try to gather momentum for the next leg downwards. The intraday bias is positive and a break above 1.4401 will set the focus on 1.4501, en route to 1.4670

Resistance Support
intraday intraweek intraday intraweek
1.4401 1.4499 1.4335 1.4170
1.4499 1.5146 1.4216 1.3740


Current level - 92.04

The overall downtrend has been renewed with the recent break below 87.12. Trading is situated below the 50- and 200-day SMA, currently projected at 89.50 and 93.54.

Yesterday's slide fell short of our target at 90.60 and the pair reversed at 91.25, initiating an uptrend for 92.57-70. The intraday bias is positive, well supported at 91.96, but we will expect a reversal below 92.70 to set the focus back on 88.90.

Resistance Support
intraday intraweek intraday intraweek
92.57 93.40 91.96 86.01
92.70 95.60 91.25 79.60


Current level- 1.6040

The pair is in a downtrend after peaking at 1.7042. Trading is situated between the 50- and 200-day SMA, currently projected at 1.6454 and 1.5258.

Although the pair dipped to 1.5944 we continue to expect one more upswing to 1.6410, so stay tuned for a clear break above 1.6070 resistance area, that shall clear the road towards 1.6410. Intraday bias is neutral and while the pair holds below 1.6070, the outlook on the 1 h. chart will remain bearish.

Resistance Support
intraday intraweek intraday intraweek
1.6070 1.6410 1.5944 1.5706
1.6240 1.7042 1.5833 1.5352

DeltaStock Inc. - Online Forex & Securities Broker

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GMAC May Post $10 Billion Annual Loss After U.S. Takes Control

By Matt Townsend

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- GMAC Inc., the auto and home lender that became majority-owned by the U.S. government last week after a third bailout, may post a loss of more than $10 billion for 2009 as more borrowers defaulted on mortgages.

GMAC, based in Detroit, said yesterday that it expects to report a fourth-quarter loss of about $5 billion. Both the quarterly and annual losses would be records for the primary lender for General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC dealers.

The company received a $3.79 billion infusion from the Treasury Department on Dec. 30. The U.S. earmarked about $13.5 billion for GMAC in two previous capital infusions and now controls a 56 percent stake. If the government converts preferred shares to common equity, it would own more than 70 percent of GMAC, the lender said during a conference call.

“I think for the taxpayer it’s going to be a loss,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Torrance, California- based Institutional Risk Analytics. “Who is going to buy this? What is the compelling business model that wants us to have this company continue to exist?”

The most recent bailout allowed the lender to contribute $2.7 billion of capital to its Residential Capital LLC unit, which had $2 billion in mortgage assets written down in preparation for a sale. GMAC said it considered several options for ResCap, including bankruptcy. It now expects to sell some of the mortgage assets of ResCap, which ranked among the nation’s biggest subprime home lenders in 2006.

Nothing ‘Crazy’

“We’re not going to do anything crazy and give value away, but it’s an asset we’d like to figure out how to capitalize on its value,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Carpenter said while taking questions after an investor presentation yesterday.

GMAC said the fourth-quarter loss stems in part from a previously disclosed $3.8 billion pretax charge tied to revaluing “higher-risk mortgage loans.” The company said it expects delinquencies to peak next year and home prices may hit bottom in the first quarter of 2011.

The latest capital infusion and restructuring weren’t enough to stabilize ResCap and assure a return to profitability, according to Moody’s Investors Service. While the changes were positive, ResCap’s “liquidity position is tenuous, capital insufficient and franchise impaired,” Moody’s said in a statement on Dec. 31.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at


Indonesia Keeps Key Rate Unchanged for Fifth Month

By Aloysius Unditu and Novrida Manurung

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fifth month, saying it isn’t concerned about inflation pressures in the first half.

Bank Indonesia maintained its reference rate at 6.5 percent, the lowest level since its introduction in July 2005, according to a statement in Jakarta today. All 18 economists in a Bloomberg News survey predicted the decision.

Inflation in Southeast Asia’s largest economy held near a decade low in December, giving the central bank more time before it joins other Asian policy makers in raising borrowing costs. Barclays Plc and HSBC Holdings Plc expect the threat of faster consumer-price gains this year may prompt Bank Indonesia to act next quarter.

“Still-subdued inflationary pressures have definitely left the central bank in the comfort zone, allowing it to watch what is happening to inflation and economic growth before embarking on any monetary tightening,” said Robert Prior-Wandesforde, senior Asia economist at HSBC in Singapore. “We continue to expect the earliest tightening to come only in the later part of the second quarter.”

Indonesia’s central bank halted cutting rates last August after slashing borrowing costs for nine straight months to shield the $514 billion economy from the worst global recession since the 1930s. The nation has fared better than its neighbors during the worldwide slump, relying less on exports and enjoying consumer confidence buoyed by the most stable political climate since the ouster of former dictator Suharto in 1998.

Bank Lending

Lower borrowing costs have benefited Indonesian companies such as PT Bank Mandiri, the nation’s largest lender by assets, which estimates net income increased to about 6 trillion rupiah ($645 million) in 2009, president director Agus Martowardojo said on Dec. 9. The Jakarta-based company had a profit of 5.3 trillion rupiah in 2008, according to Bloomberg data.

Lending by commercial banks may increase by between 17 percent and 20 percent this year, following a gain of 10.6 percent in 2009, the central bank said today.

Optimism that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s second term, which began on Oct. 20, will enable the country to achieve its economic potential helped the Jakarta Composite Index climb 87 percent in 2009, its biggest annual gain since 1993.

Indonesia’s rupiah, the best performing currency in the Asia Pacific region outside Japan, rose 16 percent last year. The currency’s recent strength was due to an inflow of capital and action would be taken on the rupiah’s gains when necessary, Bank Indonesia said today.

Currency Gains

The rupiah advanced 1.1 percent to 9,258 per dollar as of 4:25 p.m. in Jakarta, from 9,363 yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 9,245, the strongest level since Sept. 4, 2008.

Indonesia’s foreign reserves may increase to between $75 billion and $76 billion this year from $66.1 billion in December 2009, the central bank said. Reserves may rise to as much as $100 billion within a few years, it added.

Yudhoyono’s government wants to spend more than $150 billion over the next five years to improve roads and build ports and power plants, which may further improve growth in an economy that expanded 4.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009 from a year earlier. The economy may have grown 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter, the central bank said today.

Faster Growth

The economy is forecast to expand by as much as 5.5 percent this year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Dec. 8. Gross domestic product grew 4.3 percent last year, the central bank said, adding that prospects for the economy were “improving.”

Indonesia’s consumer prices rose 2.78 percent in December from a year earlier, the central statistics agency said Jan. 4. That was close to the smallest gain since June 2000.

Bank Indonesia doesn’t foresee inflation pressures in the first half and the central bank is “optimistic” about reaching this year’s target, Senior Deputy Governor Darmin Nasution told reporters in Jakarta today. Consumer-price gains are expected to average 4 percent to 6 percent in 2010, he said.

“The benign inflation reading will allow Bank Indonesia to keep rates anchored for some more time to support credit growth and domestic demand,” Prakriti Sofat, a regional economist at Barclays in Singapore, wrote in a Jan. 4 report. “We continue to expect the first 25 basis-point hike in the second quarter of 2010, with the policy rate ending the year at 7.5 percent.”

Australia, Vietnam

The government will improve distribution and transportation systems as it aims to maintain inflation of “no more” than 5 percent this year, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said Dec. 1. Bank Indonesia expects 2010 inflation to range between 4 percent and 6 percent, it said in a statement published on its Web site in December.

Policy makers in Australia and Vietnam have already begun increasing interest rates to contain rising prices.

Australia’s central bank on Dec. 1 raised its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point for an unprecedented third straight month as evidence mounts that the nation’s economy is strengthening. The State Bank of Vietnam increased its key rate to 8 percent from 7 percent effective Dec. 1, according to a Nov. 25 statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aloysius Unditu in Jakarta at


Europe Manufacturing, Services Expand Most in More Than 2 Years

By Simone Meier

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Europe’s services and manufacturing industries expanded at the fastest pace in more than two years in December, indicating the euro-area economy is gathering strength.

A composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries in the 16-nation euro region increased to 54.2 from 53.7 in November, London-based Markit Economics said today. That matched an initial estimate published on Dec. 16 and the highest since October 2007. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The euro-area economy is gaining momentum after emerging from the worst recession in more than six decades amid a worldwide recovery. Manufacturing in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, expanded at the fastest pace in more than three years in December, while Chinese manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in five years. The European Central Bank said last month that the region may expand only at a “moderate pace” and show an “uneven” recovery.

Euro-region growth could show a positive surprise in the first half of the year,” said Stefan Bielmeier, an economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Frankfurt. “The ECB will probably start raising borrowing costs in the second half. We’re relatively optimistic about the outlook overall.”

The euro dropped against the dollar for a second day on speculation the European Union may be reluctant to help Greece as the country struggles to bolster its finances. The common currency was trading at $1.4358 at 9:05 a.m. in London, down 0.1 percent on the day after falling as much as 0.5 percent to $1.4284 earlier.

Euro-Area Manufacturing

An index of services rose to 53.6 in December from 53 in the previous month, Markit said. That was the highest since November 2007. A gauge of euro-area manufacturing increased to 51.6 from 51.2 in the previous month.

An index of the services industry in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, rose to 52.7 last month from 51.4 in November, Markit said today. An index of services for France fell to 58.7 from 60.9, while one for Italy increased to 53.9 from 49.8.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simone Meier in Dublin at


U.K. Consumer Confidence Drops the Most in a Year

By Svenja O’Donnell

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. consumer confidence fell in December by the most in more than a year as expectations for the economy deteriorated, Nationwide Building Society said.

The index of consumer sentiment declined five points from the previous month to 69, the biggest drop since November 2008, the customer-owned lender said in an e-mailed statement today. A measure of consumers’ economic expectations in the next six months fell eight points to 101.

With December marking the annual Christmas season peak for shopping, the report may signal a setback for retail spending as consumers brace for higher taxes to curb Britain’s record budget deficit. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is trying to revive the economy and restore support among voters in time for an election due by June.

“An element of caution may have begun to creep back into the minds of consumers,” Nationwide Chief Economist Martin Gahbauer said in the statement. “Lower expectations may foreshadow a more sluggish consumer outlook in 2010 as stimulus measures are withdrawn.”

The pound was little changed against the dollar today, trading at $1.6018 as of 10:03 a.m. in London. The yield on the two-year U.K. government bond rose 1 basis point to 1.316 percent.

A gauge of whether consumers think it’s a good time to make big purchases dropped to 106 last month from 107 in November, Nationwide said.

‘Surprising’ Drop

“The drop is slightly surprising,” David Page, an economist at Investec Securities, said today. “It may well be as people look forward to 2010, they are focusing on the issues that are still going to make it very difficult for households across the year. What concerns us and what may underlie this is the outlook for expenditure after Christmas.”

Consumer spending this year will reflect “continuing economic uncertainty,” Marks & Spencer Group Plc Chairman Stuart Rose said in a statement today. The U.K.’s largest clothing retailer reported a gain in holiday sales that some analysts said missed estimates, and it predicted that business conditions will “remain challenging” in 2010.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said last month he will require higher tax contributions next year. This month, value-added tax returned to 17.5 percent from 15 percent, reversing a year-old measure. The Conservative opposition had a 10 percentage-point lead over Brown’s Labour Party in a YouGov Plc poll released Jan. 1.

Rainy Day Worries

“The looming VAT hike and other tax changes announced in the pre-budget report may have impacted on confidence in December, forcing people to review their expectations for the future,” Gahbauer said.

Greg Hodge, an analyst at London-based industry research firm Planet Retail Ltd. said on Bloomberg Television today that the confidence report was “bad news.”

“You have two types of people -- people that are looking to save for the rainy day are worried about the future, and people who sit on various mortgages who are still relatively cash-rich,” he said. “Those people seem to have overridden the negative people preparing for the rainy day.”

Unemployment growth is still slowing as the economy revives. A separate report today by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Federation showed that a measure of hiring for permanent jobs grew at the fastest pace since July 2007 in December, rising to 62.8 from 61.7 the previous month.

A U.K. index of service industries showed faster expansion in December, a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said today.

Shop Prices

Meanwhile, prices of goods in U.K. shops advanced 2.2 percent in December from a year earlier after a 0.2 percent increase the previous month, the British Retail Consortium said in a separate report today. Food prices rose an annual 3.7 percent while non-food prices gained 1.4 percent.

The Bank of England will maintain its program of purchasing bonds with newly-created money at 200 billion pounds tomorrow, according to all 35 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Policy makers will also keep the benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent, 53 economists said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Svenja O’Donnell in London at


Papaconstantinou Says Stark’s Greek Bailout Comment Unnecessary

By Judith Bogner and John Fraher

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said his government doesn’t need outside help to cut its budget deficit after a European Central Bank official earlier warned that such aid wouldn’t be forthcoming.

ECB Executive Board member Juergen Stark was quoted in Il Sole newspaper as saying that markets are “deluding themselves” if they think other European Union nations will help rescue Greece.

“Frankly we don’t need that clarification,” said Papaconstantinou in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “We don’t expect to be bailed out by anybody as, I think, is perfectly clear we’re doing what needs to be done to bring the deficit down and control the public debt.”


Greece Faces Credibility Test From EU Athens Swoop

By James G. Neuger

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Greece’s plan to cut the European Union’s widest budget deficit faces a first credibility test today when EU officials arrive in Athens to scrutinize the government’s taxing and spending proposals.

The three-day trip by aides to Monetary Commissioner Joaquin Almunia is an unusual step, said an EU official who asked not to be named, underscoring concern about a shortfall estimated at 12.7 percent of gross domestic product last year.

Greek bonds plunged in December as the country’s ballooning deficit spooked some investors, fanning speculation that fiscal woes could also engulf Spain, Ireland and other euro region nations. While Prime Minister George Papandreou has pledged to cut the deficit below the EU’s 3 percent limit by 2012, he’s struggling to convince economists he will follow through.

Cutting spending is “very difficult in Greece because you know that once the government tries to do that you very often get riots and people rising in the streets,” Philippe Gijsels, a strategist at Fortis Global Markets, said. “But it’s clear that they will have to tighten their belts and come up with a budget that’s believable by the rest of the world.”

The Brussels-based European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, won’t make its views public before Greece releases detailed plans later this month, EU spokeswoman Amelia Torres said. Talks between EU and Greek authorities are on a “technical level.”


The European Central Bank will be represented on the fact- finding mission. Greece isn’t planning any announcements until tomorrow at the earliest because today is a holiday, the finance ministry said.

Investors’ jitters about Greece were highlighted today after Il Sole newspaper reported ECB Executive Board member Juergen Stark as saying markets are “deluding themselves” if they think the EU will bail out Greece. The euro fell as much as 0.5 percent to $1.4284 before recouping half its losses.

Papandreou, elected in October on a platform of higher wages and spending, was stung into acting on the deficit by a bond-market selloff and downgrades from the three main rating companies. In the two months to Dec. 21, the yield on 10-year Greek bonds surged 1.33 percentage points to 5.96 percent.

“Greece was really the problem child for markets,” said Guillaume Menuet, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. “We are only seeing evidence of clear commitments to fiscal consolidation in the last couple of months.”


The Greek government is now relying on one-time taxes, a crackdown on tax evasion and cuts in civil servant bonuses to pare the deficit to 8.7 percent of GDP in 2010, which has bought Papandreou some time with bond investors. Since Greece’s budget was passed on Dec. 24, the yield on 10-year bonds has slipped to 5.64 percent.

The Greek finance ministry yesterday forecast it will cut the deficit below the EU’s ceiling one year earlier than previously forecast. EU rules foresee possible fines for countries that flout budget limits, though no such penalty has been imposed.

Greece’s credit rating was cut last month by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. Greece sold bonds directly to selected investors last month and may conduct another private placement this month, Spyros Papanicolaou, head of the Public Debt Management Agency, said yesterday.

Greece’s ballooning deficit has prompted speculation from some investors that the rest of the EU would rescue the country from default if such a move were necessary. German Chancellor Angela Merkel fanned such talk when she said Dec. 10 that Europe has a “responsibility” to aid Greece overcome its crisis, though she stopped short of laying out a course of action.


The ECB’s Stark today indicated in his newspaper interview with Il Sole that those remarks shouldn’t be overinterpreted.

“The markets are deluding themselves when they think at a certain point the other member states will put their hands on their wallets to save Greece,” the paper cited him as saying.

While Greek 10-year yields at 5.64 percent remain the highest in the 16-nation euro region, it is still too early to contemplate the risk of Greece becoming the first country in the bloc to default on its debt, said Jacques Cailloux, chief euro- area economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

“Default is a long, long way away from the current situation,” Cailloux said on Bloomberg Television. “There’s too much at stake for the future of the euro to let one periphery country default and the political willingness at the core of the euro area is extremely strong and will support the periphery.”

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at


Swiss Franc at 1.48 Per Euro Would See SNB Act, Commerzbank Says

By Justin Carrigan

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The franc’s advance to less than 1.50 per euro shows the Swiss National Bank’s resistance to the currency’s gains has shifted rather than disappeared, according to Commerzbank AG.

The franc appreciated to 1.4809 per euro on Jan. 4, its strongest level in nine months. It was at 1.4846 as of 8:09 a.m. in London today.

“The only thing that has changed is that the SNB’s pain threshold has been moved downwards with the lower level now located in the area around 1.45-1.46,” a Comerzbank team including Lutz Karpowitz in Frankfurt wrote in a report today.

“Moreover the speed of a possible appreciation of the franc now plays a more important role,” the analysts wrote. “Should the franc appreciate rapidly, with euro-franc quickly falling below the 1.48 mark, the SNB is likely to take action again.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Carrigan in London at


U.S. Two-Year Treasury Futures to Rally: Technical Analysis

By Wes Goodman

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury two-year futures contracts are poised to rally in January as their slide to their worst month on record in December is likely to reverse, said DZ Bank AG, citing trading patterns.

The contract had a so-called bullish engulfing day on Jan. 4, said Andy Cossor, the Hong Kong-based chief market strategist for Asia for Frankfurt-based DZ Bank, Germany’s fifth-largest lender. The pattern occurs on a candlestick chart when a small solid box, which is created by a decline in price, is followed the next day by a large empty box, reflecting a gain. The second candlestick is bigger than, or “engulfs,” the first one.

Using the same chart, Cossor, drew a descending line connecting the highs of Dec. 18 and Dec. 31 and extrapolated it to today. The contract is above the line now, a second positive sign.

“The bullish engulfing day is normally a reversal pattern,” Cossor said. “The downtrend should stop and there should be further upside price action. The rally also broke above the downtrend line. The two things together make a bullish move in the market that much more likely.”

Two-year futures contracts for March delivery were little changed today at 108 11/32 as of 10:10 a.m. in Hong Kong. They climbed 9/32, or $2.81 per $1,000 face amount, in the past two days, the biggest gain in four weeks.

The contract fell 26/32 in December, the most since it began trading on Jan. 2, 2009.

In technical analysis, investors and analysts study charts of trading patterns and prices to predict changes in a security, commodity, currency or index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wes Goodman in Singapore at


Record Year for Muni Bond Sales Seen as N.Y. MTA Preps Offering

By Jeremy R. Cooke

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest mass-transit agency in the U.S., will be one of the first issuers to sell Build America Bonds in a year when such taxable offerings may push municipal issuance to a record $450 billion.

The “generous” 35 percent Treasury rebate on Build America interest costs may entice state and local borrowers to sell as much as $150 billion of the bonds in 2010, more than twice as much as last year, Municipal Market Advisors forecast this week. The MTA, operator of subways, buses, rail lines and river crossings, plans to sell $350 million of so-called BABs as soon as today.

The initial authorization to issue bonds created by the February 2009 economic stimulus expires at the end of this year. Build America sales have exceeded $64 billion in less than eight months after they began, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Because of the generous BAB subsidy, we are forecasting record municipal borrowing” this year, Matt Fabian, senior analyst at the Concord, Massachusetts-based research firm, said in a Jan. 4 report. “Many of the uncertainties in the municipal market for 2010 involve questions of how long the BAB program is extended and at what terms. Re-authorization for at least another two years is a near-certainty.”

Record Forecast

Fabian cited “gimmick financings to balance near-term budget gaps,” refinancing of tax-exempt debt from the past 10 years, more state endowment-supported public school bonds in Texas, and borrowing by California, the largest municipal issuer, as responsible for the record forecast.

The MTA postponed borrowing last month as officials recrafted a budget, resorting to service cuts and the phase-out of student discounts, after a drop in state aid and higher labor costs.

Banks led by New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. are to underwrite an offering of transportation revenue bonds, rated A2, or sixth-highest investment grade, by Moody’s Investors Service and comparable A rankings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

Moody’s cut its outlook on the bonds, one of several types sold by the transportation agency, to negative from stable last month on concern that leaders in Albany may further reduce state-transit funding.

Revenue from the MTA’s bus, subway and commuter-rail networks, state and local government subsidies, dedicated taxes and operating surpluses from its toll bridges and tunnels, have been earmarked to pay off the debt.

Revenue Bonds

Transportation revenue bonds make up almost half of the MTA’s total $27.2 billion debt load, according to agency documents distributed last month.

Build America Bonds issued by the authority with a November 2039 maturity traded yesterday at an average yield of 6.2 percent, 159 basis points more than benchmark 30-year U.S. bonds, Bloomberg data show. When they were issued, the so-called spread to Treasuries was 180 basis points. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Investors have been demanding 26 basis points more than comparable corporate bonds for the MTA securities, and the spread has ranged from 12 basis points to 37 basis points, based on a daily research note yesterday from JPMorgan strategists.

Yields on top-rated, tax-exempt bonds due in 30 years slid 2 basis points to 4.51 percent yesterday, a three-month low, according to a daily survey by Municipal Market Advisors.

The degree to which traditional long-term municipals perform better than Treasuries this year may diminish Build America sales, Fabian said, since it would narrow the cost advantage for the new alternative for public-works borrowing.

A taxable interest rate of 6.22 percent would translate to about 4.04 percent for the issuer after accounting for the 35 percent federal subsidy.

Following are descriptions of additional pending sales of municipal bonds in the U.S.

ILLINOIS, the state whose credit rating was cut twice in early December, plans to sell $3.47 billion in taxable general- obligation bonds this week to cover public employee pension fund contributions for fiscal 2010 and help address its budget gap. The notes will mature from 2011 through 2015 in equal amounts. Underwriters led by JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Chicago-based Loop Capital Markets LLC will sell the debt to investors. Illinois was cut to A2 from A1 by Moody’s and to A+ from AA- by S&P. Fitch rates the fifth most-populous state A. (Updated Jan. 5)

NEW JERSEY TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND AUTHORITY plans to borrow about $850 million this week to finance road, bridge, rail and bus projects in the most densely populated state. The offering, through banks led by Barclays Plc, will include a mix of zero-coupon, tax-exempt securities and taxable Build America Bonds, said Moody’s. Orders from retail buyers will be taken today, with institutional sales tomorrow, said Tom Vincz, a state treasury spokesman. The debt, backed by state appropriations, is rated A1 by Moody’s, A+ by Fitch and AA- by S&P. (Updated Jan. 6)

OHIO, the seventh most-populous state, will issue as much as $280 million of tax-exempt general obligation bonds as soon as today in a refinancing to provide savings for the current two-year budget. Underwriters led by BofA Merrill Lynch are handling the transaction, part of a plan to shift $736 million in debt payments to future fiscal years from the biennium ending June 30, 2011, without extending final maturities. The debt being refunded originally covered projects for schools, higher education and infrastructure. The state is rated AA+ by S&P, Aa2 by Moody’s and AA by Fitch. (Updated Jan. 6)

MARYLAND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORP., which issues tax- exempt bonds to encourage business in the state, plans to sell almost $260 million in debt this week as part of a marine- terminal concession with Ports America Chesapeake. The money raised will fund state transportation projects and an expansion of Seagirt Marine Terminal to make it big enough to handle some of the world’s largest cargo vessels. The Port of Baltimore’s container facility will be leased for 50 years to Ports America, controlled by Highstar Capital, a New York-based private-equity firm. The debt, secured by terminal revenue, received a provisional Baa3 rating from Moody’s. A group of underwriters led by Goldman Sachs will market the debt to investors. (Updated Jan. 5)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, the most populous county in the U.S. Southeast, will sell $600 million of bonds backed by revenue from Miami International Airport, the largest U.S. gateway to Latin America, the week of Jan. 11. As much as 30 percent of the issue will be taxable Build America Bonds. Sales to individual investors will occur Jan. 12, with sales to institutions the following day. Proceeds will be used to repay $375 million of commercial paper, with the rest used on the airport’s $6 billion expansion. Underwriting will be led by Citigroup Inc. S&P rates the bonds A-. (Added Dec. 17)

LOWER COLORADO RIVER AUTHORITY, which manages electricity generation and water use in the region around Texas’s Colorado River, intends to offer about $426 million of tax-exempt bonds as soon as this month through Barclays to refinance debt. They will mature from 2010 through 2020, according to preliminary offering documents. The bonds are rated A+ by Fitch, A1 by Moody’s and A by S&P. (Updated Dec. 30)

NEW JERSEY’S HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY plans to sell $338 million of fixed-rate, tax-exempt bonds backed by student loan revenue the week of Jan. 11. The proceeds will allow the authority to buy back and retire auction-rate securities and to fund loans that allow education borrowers to consolidate multiple borrowings into one regular payment. Banks led by BofA Merrill Lynch will handle the offering. Ratings on the deal are AA from S&P and Aa2 from Moody’s, and maturities will range from 2011 through 2037. (Updated Dec. 18)

PORT OF HOUSTON AUTHORITY, overseer of the busiest shipping port in the U.S. by foreign tonnage, plans to sell as much as $327.2 million of tax-exempt bonds backed by property taxes collected in Harris County, Texas. Underwriters led by BofA Merrill Lynch will handle the deal as soon as this month. The transaction will refinance debt that the port can buy back, either through call options or investor tenders. Interest on all except $40.5 million of the bonds can be excluded from calculations of the federal alternative minimum tax. The obligations that may be refinanced were issued in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008, preliminary sale documents show. (Updated Jan. 6)

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy R. Cooke in New York at


Euro Falls for Second Day Versus Dollar on Greek Budget Concern

By Bo Nielsen

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The euro dropped against the dollar for a second day on speculation the European Union may be reluctant to help Greece and other nations bolster their finances.

The euro also weakened versus the pound after Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper cited European Central Bank policy maker Juergen Stark as saying markets can’t assume other nations will bail out Greece. The yen fell against all 16 of its most-traded peers after rising stock markets and signs the global economy is improving spurred demand for higher-risk currencies.

There’s “fear that Greece will default and that other countries like Spain and Ireland will follow,” said Antje Praefcke, a currency analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “This means heightened uncertainty.”

The euro dropped to $1.4338 at 8:17 a.m. in London from $1.4365 in New York yesterday, and touched $1.4284 after Stark’s comments were reported. It traded at 132.01 yen, up from 131.75 yen. The dollar strengthened to 92.08 yen from 91.71 yen.

Greece’s plan to cut the European Union’s widest budget deficit, estimated at 12.7 percent of gross domestic product last year, will be scrutinized by EU officials in Athens today. The euro fell 4.6 percent versus the dollar in December as Greek bonds plunged and concern mounted that fiscal woes could also engulf Spain, Ireland and other euro-region members.

Stark, a member of the ECB’s executive board, said markets are “deluding themselves” if they think the EU will bail out Greece, according to Il Sole.

“The euro is falling on concern European nations face rating pressures,” said John Hydeskov, a currency analyst in Copenhagen at Danske Bank A/S. “Stark’s comments show ECB policy makers are taking the Greek debt issue seriously.”

Yen Drop

The yen fell 0.5 percent to 84.05 per Australian dollar as the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of shares climbed 0.5 percent and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.5 percent, fanning the appetite for trades in higher-yielding assets funded in the currency. Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index rose 0.2 percent.

The Japanese currency also weakened after a report from Kyodo News said the government decided to accept the resignation of Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii, an advocate of a stronger yen, on grounds of poor health. That report cited an unidentified ruling-party lawmaker.

“If his resignation leads to declines in the support rating for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama or triggers political confusion, it may become a negative factor for the yen,” said Koji Fukaya, a senior currency strategist in Tokyo at Deutsche Bank AG.

The dollar rose before two reports today that are expected to show an improving U.S. economy.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of non- manufacturing businesses, which account for almost 90 percent of the economy, probably rose to 50.5 in December from 48.7 in November, according to a Bloomberg survey. Another report may indicate that companies cut the fewest jobs last month since January 2008, a separate survey showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bo Nielsen in Copenhagen at


China Shuts Less Than 1% of Power-Generating Capacity

By Bloomberg News

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- China, facing icy temperatures and heavy snowfall, shut 0.5 percent of its electricity-generating capacity as bad weather hampered coal deliveries to power plants.

The world’s second-largest energy user took offline 4,780 megawatts of capacity linked to its main network as of Jan. 3, according to data provided by State Grid Corp. of China, the dominant grid operator. China’s overall capacity reached 874,000 megawatts as of the end of last year. Coal is used as fuel at about 80 percent of the country’s generators.

Temperatures in northern China may drop to as low as minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit) from this evening to tomorrow night after the heavy snowfall this week, the China Meteorological Administration said. Coal stockpiles at power plants connected to State Grid’s network have fallen 4.3 percent since Dec. 28 to 21.11 million metric tons, enough for up to nine days of consumption, data from the company showed.

“It’s definitely not as serious as in early 2008,” Dave Dai, a utility analyst with CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, said by phone from Hong Kong. “The transportation bottlenecks have been easy in general. In certain provinces, coal stockpiles are low, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough coal to go around.”

In January 2008, China suffered its worst snowstorms in 50 years. The blizzards, blamed on the La Nina phenomenon, left millions of travelers stranded during the Lunar New Year holidays and factory closures caused an estimated 111 billion yuan ($16.2 billion) in economic losses.

China shut 7 percent of its coal-fired power generation capacity, or 40,990 megawatts, after deliveries of the fuel were delayed by snowstorms at that time, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Coal Shares Rise

Coal companies climbed in Hong Kong trading today amid plunging temperatures on the mainland, outpacing the 0.8 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index as of the midday break.

China Shenhua Energy Co., the country’s biggest producer of the fuel, advanced 2.8 percent. China Coal Energy Co., the No. 2, added 5.7 percent, while Yanzhou Coal Mining Co., the third- biggest, gained 2.8 percent.

State Grid is limiting electricity in central China because of reduced coal stockpiles, the China Business News reported today. The central provinces of Hubei and Jiangxi had the largest power shortage nationwide as of Jan. 3, according to the data from the grid operator.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ying Wang in Beijing at


Sugar May Reach 30 Cents in Six Months, Verghese Says

By Claire Leow and Susan Li

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sugar futures may rise to more than 30 cents a pound “within the next six to 12 months,” said Sunny Verghese, chief executive of Olam International Ltd., a food ingredients supplier.

A smaller Indian crop and demand for ethanol in Brazil may push up prices, he said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Sugar futures in New York more than doubled last year as adverse weather damaged crops in Brazil and India, the largest producers. India is buying sugar for a second year after the weakest monsoon since 1972 worsened a supply deficit.

“With this sort of prices, there will be a lot of shift of acreage to sugar but the cycle that is required to recover supply-induced response is about 18 months,” he said. “In the interim, stocks will turn down. Most of it is in the price but we think there’s potential to breach 30 cents.”

Raw-sugar futures for March delivery gained 0.1 percent to 27.64 cents a pound on in New York yesterday. Earlier, the most- active contract touched 28.9 cents, the highest price since Jan. 27, 1981.

To contact the reporters on this story: Claire Leow in Singapore at; Susan Li in Hong Kong at


Soybean Meal Exports from India Slump on Bean Prices

By Thomas Kutty Abraham

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Soybean meal supplies from India, Asia’s biggest exporter, dropped 41 percent in the three months ended December, as a surge in local seed prices prompted buyers to shift to South American supplies, a processors’ group said.

Shipments in the period were 839,996 metric tons, compared with 1.42 million tons a year ago, Rajesh Agrawal, coordinator for the Soybean Processors’ Association of India, said in a phone interview from Indore today. Exports in December slumped 51 percent to 324,088 tons from a year earlier, he said.

Soybean prices in India advanced 18 percent in the October- December quarter after drought reduced production in Argentina and Brazil, the top exporters of animal feed, increasing demand for supplies from the South Asian country. India may miss its target to export 4 million tons of soybean meal in the year to September, Agrawal said Nov. 30.

“Indian meal prices are still higher than those of the U.S. and Latin America,” Agrawal said today. “We are not expecting a pick-up in exports before March.”

Soybean meal, India’s largest oilseed meal export, is added to poultry feed as a form of protein to aid birds’ growth. Sales were 3.21 million tons in the 2008-09 season.

Shipments of all oilseed meal, including canola, slumped 32 percent to 1.05 million tons in three months ended December from 1.54 million tons a year earlier, the Mumbai-based the Solvent Extractors’ Association said in an e-mailed statement today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Kutty Abraham in Mumbai at


Oil Trades Near 14-Month High on Supply Drop, Cold Weather

By Christian Schmollinger and Ben Sharples

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Oil traded near a 14-month high in New York as an industry report showed a decline in U.S. crude stockpiles and cold weather bolstered the outlook for fuel demand in the world’s largest energy-consuming nation.

Temperatures in the U.S. Northeast, which consumes about four-fifths of the country’s heating oil, are forecast to remain below normal through Jan. 15, according to the National Weather Service. U.S. crude supplies dropped 2.27 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute said yesterday.

“The weather is cold everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere with Europe getting walloped and China as well,” said Anthony Nunan, an assistant general manager for risk management at Mitsubishi Corp. in Tokyo. “Anything that’s positive for heating oil and middle distillate demand has to be a positive for crude oil. The inventories have basically come off their peaks in the last few weeks.”

Crude oil for February delivery was at $81.59 a barrel, down 18 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:40 p.m. Singapore time. Yesterday, the contract rose 26 cents to $81.77, the highest settlement since Oct. 9, 2008. Oil climbed nine days through yesterday, the longest winning stretch since July.

Temperatures in northern China may drop as low as minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit) from this evening to tomorrow night, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Temperatures in southern China may drop by as much as 6 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius as a cold front moves across the country, the China Meteorological Administration said today. Beijing, the capital of the world’s second-largest oil user, recorded a temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) last night, the agency said.

The eastern half of the U.S. is facing its coldest winter since 1982, said on its Web site. Arctic air from Canada is spreading south. By Jan. 9, New York and Boston may have lows of minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).

Distillate Supplies

An Energy Department report today may show stockpiles of crude oil declined 1 million barrels from 326 million, based on the median estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, increased 962,000 barrels to 162.6 million last week, according to the API report. The Energy Department is forecast to show stockpiles dropped 1.85 million barrels, based on the Bloomberg survey.

Inventory Data

“The API data has probably given oil a bit of upward momentum, we have seen a further draw down in crude supplies,” said Ben Westmore, a minerals and energy economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne. “There is a lot of good sentiment, especially around the prospects for heating oil in the U.S., Europe and Asia over the cooler period. If we do see a big drawdown in distillates overnight with the EIA data, we could see further rises in the oil price.”

Oil-supply totals from the API and Energy Department moved in the same direction 76 percent of the time in the past four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The API collects stockpile information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires reports to be filed with the Energy Department for its weekly survey.

Brent crude oil for February settlement traded at $80.42 a barrel, down 17 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 3:40 p.m. in Singapore. Yesterday, the contract rose 47 cents, or 0.6 percent, to end the session at $80.59.

Heating demand in the U.S. Northeast may be 11 percent above normal through Jan. 12, according to forecaster Weather Derivatives.

Heating oil for February delivery in New York fell as much as 1.36 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $2.1805 a gallon. It was at $2.1848 a gallon at 3:39 p.m. Singapore time. The contract rose 0.36 cent to settle at $2.1941 a gallon yesterday.

The southeastern U.S., which is much more dependent on natural gas for warmth, will see heating demand jump by 49 percent above normal through Jan. 12, Weather Derivatives said.

Natural gas for February delivery rose as much as 1.4 percent to $5.717 per million British thermal units.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christian Schmollinger in Singapore at; Ben Sharples in Melbourne at


Gold Gains in London Trade as December Drop Attracts Investors

By Stuart Wallace and Glenys Sim

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Gold advanced in London as last month’s decline, the steepest in more than a year, spurred demand from investors. Platinum rose to the highest price since August 2008.

Gold fell 7 percent in December, the worst month since October 2008 and paring the annual advance to 24 percent. The metal gained for a ninth year as investors sought to hedge against a weaker dollar by buying bullion. The U.S. Dollar Index, a gauge against six counterparts, rose 0.1 percent today.

Gold “looks set to track the dollar in the coming sessions,” James Moore, an analyst at London-based, wrote in a report today. “Dips are likely to draw further bargain-hunter support from investors and physical players.”

Gold for immediate delivery rose as much as 0.7 percent to $1,126.13 an ounce and traded at $1,126.05 by 8:49 a.m. in London. Gold futures for delivery in February on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 0.7 percent to $1,126.10.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange- traded fund backed by the metal, were unchanged at 1,128.75 metric tons yesterday. Gold assets in exchange-traded products of ETF Securities Ltd. fell 0.1 percent yesterday to 7.8 million ounces, according to data from the company.

“Precious metals become more attractive in an environment of falling interest rates,” Stefan Graber, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, wrote in a note today. “Yields reached very low levels in 2009 and if they turn higher we could see renewed profit-taking in the precious metals space, particularly for gold and silver.”

Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.2 percent to $17.9925 an ounce, palladium gained 1.1 percent to $424 an ounce and platinum rose as much as 1.2 percent to $1,547.75 an ounce. Platinum and palladium are used in autocatalysts and may benefit from economic expansion.

To contact the reporters on this story: Stuart Wallace in London at; Glenys Sim in Singapore at


Asian Stocks Advance on Toyota, Nintendo U.S. Sales Reports

By Masaki Kondo

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks rose, lifting the MSCI Asia Pacific Index for a fourth day, as higher U.S. sales at Toyota Motor Corp. and Nintendo Co. fueled optimism demand in the world’s biggest economy is recovering.

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, added 2.5 percent and Nintendo climbed 6.9 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. led gains by Japanese banks with a 5.5 percent jump on expectations further capital raising needs will be limited. China Shenhua Energy Co., the country’s top coal producer, added 2 percent in Hong Kong as plunging temperatures in Beijing stoked speculation demand for fuels will swell.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.5 percent to 124.27 as of 5:54 p.m. Tokyo time, taking its advance in the last four trading days to 3.7 percent. The gauge climbed 37 percent in the past 12 months as lower borrowing costs and spending packages around the world dragged economies out of recession.

“Demand is on a steady recovery worldwide,” said Yoshinori Nagano, a senior strategist in Tokyo at Daiwa Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $94 billion. “The market and economy will be better in 2010.”

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 0.5 percent in Japan, where Kyodo News said the government will accept the resignation of Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii. Taiwan’s Taiex Index climbed 1.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.6 percent.

China’s Outlook

South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.9 percent, led by Hynix Semiconductor Inc., which jumped 5.1 percent after a newspaper reported the United Arab Emirates offered to buy a stake.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9 percent. A China stock rally may fade from the second quarter as inflation triggers “significant policy tightening” by the government, Ma Jun, Deutsche Bank AG’s Hong Kong-based China economist, wrote in a note to clients.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index retreated 0.3 percent. The index added 0.3 percent yesterday as a Commerce Department report showed factory orders rose 1.1 percent in November, more than twice as much as economists had estimated.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 34 percent last year amid expectations growth in the region, driven by China, will outperform the rest of the world. The Asian index’s 2009 advance outpaced gains of 23 percent by the S&P 500 and 28 percent for Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index.

Australia’s home-building permits rose 5.9 percent in November from October, the country’s statistics bureau reported today. Reports in the past week showed China’s manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in 20 months last month and South Korea’s exports surged 33.7 percent in December.

Rising Sales

Toyota, which gets 32 percent of its sales from North America, rose 2.5 percent to 3,900 yen. The company’s U.S. sales surged 32 percent in December from a year earlier.

Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries also reported today that sales of new cars and trucks in the country surged by a record 15.9 percent in December compared with the same month a year earlier.

Nintendo jumped 6.9 percent to 24,500 yen in Osaka trading. U.S. sales of the motion-sensing Wii probably exceeded 3 million last month, the Kyoto-based company said on its Web site. The company sold 2.15 million Wii players in the U.S. during December 2008, according to estimates by research firm NPD Group.

Toyota and Nintendo were the biggest and fourth-biggest contributors to the MSCI Asia Pacific Index’s advance. The gauge’s rally drove its 14-day relative strength index to 68 today, nearing the 70 threshold that some traders use as a sign to sell.

Japanese Banks

“Technical indicators show the market is increasingly overheating,” said Hiroichi Nishi, an equities manager at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc. in Tokyo.

Sumitomo Mitsui, Japan’s No. 2 bank by market value, climbed 5.5 percent to 2,800 yen, while smaller rival Mizuho Financial Group Inc. surged 6.1 percent to 174 yen. Banks accounted for 26 percent of the Topix index’s 1.3 percent gain.

Sumitomo Mitsui may announce plans this week to raise about 800 billion yen ($8.7 billion) in a share sale, people familiar with the matter said. An agreement with shareholders not to sell new stock expired Dec. 21, freeing the bank to add to the 861 billion yen it raised in a share sale six months ago. The lender may unveil the plan today, the Nikkei newspaper said.

“With all the capital raising, investors were avoiding Japanese banks,” said Masaru Hamasaki, chief strategist at Tokyo-based Toyota Asset Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of $14 billion. “With Sumitomo Mitsui about to announce a share sale, the bad news is out for a while. People are starting to buy them back.”

Chilling Weather

A gauge of energy companies posted the second-steepest advance among the 10 industry groups in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. Technology shares had the third-biggest advance.

China Shenhua added 2 percent to HK$40.50 in Hong Kong. China Coal Energy Co. rose 5.3 percent to HK$15.88. Beijing’s temperatures this morning were the lowest for this time of year since 1971, China Meteorological Administration said.

Hynix, the No. 2 maker of computer-memory chips globally, jumped 5.1 percent to 24,550 won. The United Arab Emirates government offered in November to buy a stake in Hynix, the Electronic Times reported, citing an unidentified South Korean government official.

Japan Airlines Corp. sank 6.7 percent to 84 yen and was the biggest loser on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The Development Bank of Japan, the company’s biggest creditor, favors bankruptcy proceedings to restructure the airline, Nikkei English News reported. The Ministry of Finance, which controls the lender, also supports the bankruptcy option, the newspaper said.

To contact the reporter for this story: Masaki Kondo in Tokyo at