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Forint Gains as Hungarian Central Bank Keeps Rates Stable

By , October 28, 2014 11:50 pm

Many Hungarian 20,000-forint billsThe Hungarian forint strengthened yesterday after the nation’s central bank left interest rates unchanged, a move expected by market analysts, and pledged to keep monetary policy stable as long as it can.

The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (the Central Bank of Hungary) decided at yesterday’s meeting to keep its key interest rate at 2.1 percent. The bank has performed a long sequence of rate reductions since 2012 and now is trying to refrain from slashing borrowing costs further. The MNB said in the statement:

If the assumptions underlying the Bank’s projections hold, achieving the medium-term inflation target points in the direction of maintaining current loose monetary conditions for an extended period.

USD/HUF edged lower from 242.43 to 242.25 as of 5:57 GMT today.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Hungarian Forint, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Loonie Gains a Bit Against Major Counterparts

By , October 28, 2014 4:48 am

Sir Robert Borden on 100-dollar billCanadian dollar is heading a little bit higher today, gaining ground after weakening yesterday. A slight uptick in oil prices, along with better news in European and China, are helping the loonie a little bit. However, there are still challenges ahead for the Canadian dollar.

Loonie is getting a reprieve today, after dropping yesterday. The Canadian dollar has been struggling recently, due largely to falling oil prices. Not only that, but the Canadian dollar got a bit of a shock last week with the terrorist attack in Ottawa. We don’t normally think of Canada as a terrorism target, and the shooting shook quite a few people up, and weighed on the loonie a bit.

Today, though, the Canadian dollar is getting a bit of a break. Oil prices are slightly higher today, and that is offering some support to the loonie. Also, the Canadian dollar tends to do better when signs of a global economic recovery can help stocks. Better news coming out of Europe and China are helping the situation, and that is providing a little boost for the loonie.

At 10:46 GMT USD/CAD is down to 1.1217 from the open at 1.1247. EUR/CAD is also lower, dropping to 1.4235 from the open at 1.4284. GBP/CAD is down to 1.8074 from the open at 1.8132.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Canadian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Japanese Yen Gains Ground Against Major Counterparts

By , October 27, 2014 4:18 am

Rolled 1,000-yen banknoteJapanese yen is heading higher against its major counterparts today, getting help from the latest economic data. With an improvement in data, there is the thought that maybe the Japanese government won’t be quite so aggressive at pursuing weakness for the yen.

Today, there is a report that the corporate service price index is seeing a gain of 3.5 per cent year over year in Japan. This news indicates that the economy might actually be growing. The Japanese economy has been struggling for decades now, with the Japanese government pursuing policies that encourage weakness in the yen in order to stimulate economic growth and make its exports desirable on the world stage.

Now, though, it appears that there has been some progress made by the Japanese economy. The Bank of Japan and other policymakers might be willing to slow their efforts to boost the economy to some degree. Even though it’s too early to quit with yen weakness altogether, policymakers and officials will likely allow a degree of appreciation from the yen for now.

At 10:44 GMT the yen is up pretty much across the board. EUR/JPY is down to 136.7880 from the open at 137.3750. USD/JPY is down to 107.8400 from the open at 108.3580. GBP/JPY is also down, dropping to 173.6270 from the open at 174.3080.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Japanese Yen, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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West Waging a ‘CNN War’ in Syria As Isil Makes Gains in Iraq

By , October 26, 2014 7:34 am

On the barren wastes of Mount Sinjar, the Yazidis are once more surrounded and fighting for their lives.

“We saw Isil, there are daily clashes with Isil. Today and yesterday there was heavy fighting,” said one stranded Yazidi man, Dre’i Shamo, last week. “The situation is very tragic and critical.”

Further south, the advance of the jihadists of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Baghdad continues, slower than before but still with no sign of a reversal of fortune. Another district fell last week, after a major military base the week before, while scores more innocent civilians have died in a rise in bombings in the city itself.

The jihadists have also reached Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and the last major city in western Iraq not in Isil’s hands.

The world’s attention has been focused on the medium-sized Kurdish town of Kobane, on the Syria-Turkey border, whose accessibility has provided countless opportunities for telegenic news coverage of American air strikes, which have multiplied in size and number. But Kobane is a secondary focus of the war that has been waging in Syria for more than three years; and that war is itself supposed to be secondary in strategic heft for America and its allies, including Britain.

They have deemed Iraq the first target of the fight against Isil. Yet the number of air strikes in supposedly less significant Syria has now reached double that in Iraq, as America and its allies seek to bolster Kobane’s defences.

Analysts and some Iraqis now wonder whether President Barack Obama’s declared strategy in the Middle East has been abandoned in favour of pursuing a short-term agenda dictated by the news agenda: that the “CNN factor was at play”, as Ben Barry, a former British Army brigadier, put it after compiling a detailed analysis of the military situation in Iraq.

Isil may even have drawn the West into a trap — pouring second-grade but eager foreign recruits into the battle for Kobane, while pursuing their more important goals next door, he said.

“Kobane is right against the border,” he told The Telegraph. “It may be that Isil deliberately took the decision to attack there to draw US air power away from Anbar.”

In the past two weeks, the Isil advance on Kobane has been halted, if not reversed. One series of pictures last week captured a moment that could become symbolic of the battle for the town: after a handful of jihadists managed to charge up a hill west of Kobane that had already changed hands twice, and replant their black flag on top, they were targeted by a massive air strike.

Flames shot dramatically in all directions, easily captured by the cameras perched just over the Turkish border a couple of hundred yards away.

Video showed the jihadists running back down the hill unharmed: the flag, it is true, was obliterated. Meanwhile, another jihadist flag still hangs over the eastern edge of town.

The US keen that the jihadists do not win the emotive victory of conquering the town and planting their flag over the border post with Turkey, a member of Nato.

But the town is hardly part of America’s strategic thinking — there are already long stretches of the border under Isil control. Then there is the threat to Baghdad and the resumed challenge to Mount Sinjar, where the death or capture of the 7,000 Yazidis estimated to be trapped there would be a humiliating humanitarian disaster.

Following the flight of the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq in August, a huge international military effort was made to save the Yazidis, a colourful minority accused by jihadists of being devil-worshippers.

Tens of thousands were led to safety in Iraqi Kurdistan, but thousands of men were killed and thousands of women and children taken captive, even sold as sex slaves. Now, with far less attention, the remainder fear a similar fate. In the past two weeks, the jihadists have cut off their escape route, leaving them surrounded.

“Isil is close to the mountain,” said Dr Saad Babir, a doctor with the Yazidis, speaking by telephone from Mount Sinjar. “They climbed up here and there were clashes.”

He said 700 family groups were cut off, along with hundreds of fighters from both the Yazidis’s own hastily put together militia and the Peshmerga. He added that civilians, including children, were beginning to succumb once again to the poor conditions, including the lack of water.

To some extent, even Sinjar and the rest of northern Iraq is a sideshow now, at least since the US air strikes in August managed to halt the Isil advance on core Kurdish regional government territory.

Isil had reached within 30 miles of the KRG capital Erbil, and taken the dam at Iraq’s largest reservoir, Lake Mosul, before being halted.

Further south in Anbar, the large, mostly Sunni, province west of Baghdad, they are still on the march.

On Thursday, they seized the district of Albu Nimr, west of Ramadi, after taking the town of Heet the week before. The Sunni jihadists are close to Baghdad from the north, west, and south, having ventured within six miles of the outer “security” perimeter the Iraqi army has set up.

Even when the army is able to drive Isil back, it is unable to secure territory.

The demoralised army, after its stunning defeats in the summer, has come to rely ever more on hardline Shia militias marshalled by their backers in neighbouring Iran.

But the militias have a brutal reputation among the Sunni population that has to be won back over if the insurgency is to be defeated.

“Isil has made solid gains in Heet and parts of Haditha,” said Hamid al-Mutlaq, a senior Sunni MP. “The US air support is there and good but the problem is that there are no ground forces to hold the lands cleared of Isil.”

Another MP, Ammar Toma, said the US appeared to be prioritising Kurds over Arabs. “We are glad that the allied forces are helping out the Kurds in combating Isil but we resent that they show less attention to Arabs fighting against Isil, whether Sunnis or Shia,” he said.

The air strikes that were supposed to help have dried up, as they have risen in Syria. Mr Barry, who analysed the state of the war for the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said strikes in Syria were running at twice the rate of those in Iraq, despite the insistence that the latter was the prime strategic target.

His analysis said that on the ground only half the brigades of the Iraqi army were battle-worthy.

But to retrain them would mean withdrawing them from the front lines, where they were needed.

The Americans were facing one of the toughest challenges of modern times in Iraq, he said — compared with the easy win of hitting Isil in Kobane. “My suspicion is that the CNN factor is at play here,” he said.

The Americans would claim — perhaps rightly — that it is important to match propaganda with propaganda, and that losing Kobane now would be a disastrous blow to morale.

It is that town that the West now wants to win. Iraq will have to wait — if it can.

Assyrian International News Agency

Pound Ends Friday with Gains

By , October 24, 2014 9:53 pm

A fan of Great Britain 10-pound notesThe Great Britain pound ended Friday with gains thanks to GDP report that was in line with analysts’ expectations and poor economic data from the United States. The currency still ended the week with losses versus the euro.

Britain’s gross domestic product grew 0.7 percent in the third quarter of this year from the previous three months. While the expansion was slower than the second quarter’s 0.9 percent, it matched forecasts. Experts argue that most market participants counted on a worse figure and the not-so-bad report resulted in relief, bringing the sterling higher.

The UK currency was falling at the previous trading session due to the negative retails sales report. Sales were down 0.3 percent in September from August, demonstrating a bigger drop than was expected by specialists.

GBP/USD rose from 1.6029 to close at 1.6085 on Friday. EUR/GBP dropped from 0.7915 to 0.7874, while GBP/JPY advanced from 173.50 to 173.91, bouncing from the intraday low of 172.96.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Great Britain Pound, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Great Britain Pound:

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Norwegian Krone Gains as Norges Bank Remains Passive

By , October 23, 2014 6:40 pm

Focus on 100-krone noteThe Norwegian krone gained today following yesterday’s decision of Norway’s central bank to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged. Such decision was widely expected by market analysts.

Norges Bank announced yesterday that it is keeping its main interest rate at 1.5 percent. Governor Oeystein Olsen said in the statement:

New information suggests that inflation and growth in the Norwegian economy are broadly in line with the September projections.

Yet Olsen added:

At the same time, developments abroad and the fall in oil prices has increased the uncertainty regarding the outlook for the Norwegian economy.

The central bank noted that the krone has depreciated this month. Despite uncertain future, the krone managed to gain after the policy decision.

USD/NOK declined from 6.5779 to 6.5687 as of 00:52 GMT today. EUR/NOK fell from 8.3171 to 8.3135.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Norwegian Krone, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Euro Gains on Manufacturing Data

By , October 23, 2014 3:59 pm

1,200 eurosThe latest manufacturing data is in for the eurozone, and it’s more positive than expected. As a result, the euro is gaining ground against many of its counterparts. This might the news that the 18-nation currency region has been waiting for, since it signals that maybe another recession isn’t inevitable after all.

Today, a release of a Purchasing Managers’ Index for the eurozone shows that the situation has improved. PMI rose to 50.7 for October, which is an improvement over the predicted fall to 49.9. The reading remains above 50, which indicates expansion, and is generally considered a better thing for the economy. On top of that, factories in Germany are recovering from a slump last month.

The good news is also helped along by indications that Spain’s economic recovery is picking up steam. While Germany is the large economic driver for the euro region, the periphery has been dragging the eurozone down. Recovery by Spain could go a long way toward getting the periphery out of trouble and increasing the stability of the eurozone.

It’s little surprise that we’re seeing some risk appetite on this news, and that the euro is heading a little bit higher.

At 10:21 GMT EUR/USD is up to 1.2665 from the open at 1.2652. EUR/GBP is up to 0.7910 from the open at 0.7882. EUR/JPY is up to 136.1850 from the open at 135.5190.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Euro, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Dollar Builds on Gains Against European Currencies

By , October 15, 2014 3:52 am

Some US one-dollar billsOnce again, expected policy divergence is taking its toll on European currencies. The US dollar is gaining ground today, with dollar index heading higher and greenback making gains against its high beta counterparts in Europe.

With the latest economic news out of the the United Kingdom and Germany, the US dollar index is gaining ground. The news out of the United Kingdom is lower than expected inflation data. While Germany’s inflation data is in line with expectations, policymakers cut the growth forecast for that country, and that is weighing on the euro.

The news is in contrast with the better information coming out of the United States. Even though economic growth in the United States isn’t particularly strong, when compared to what’s happening in Europe, it appears dynamic. The expected policy divergence, and the continued comparison between what’s happening in Europe and the United States, is likely to lead to continued more gains for the greenback.

At 10:43 GMT the US dollar index is higher, gaining to 85.9110 from the previous close at 85.8220. EUR/USD is down to 1.2644 from the open at 1.2658. GBP/USD has managed to move off its low of 1.5877 and gain to 1.5931, which is higher than the open at 1.5904. USD/JPY is up to 107.2400 from the open at 107.0530.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the US Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Loonie Gains Against European Counterparts

By , October 14, 2014 6:06 am

Canadian coins on Canadian dollar billsBetter employment data released toward the end of last week is still helping the Canadian dollar in Forex trading today. Indeed, there are hopes that Canadian rates will start rising again. This hope is allowing the loonie to log gains against European currencies, even as it continues to struggle against the greenback.

The latest employment data is providing a boost for the Canadian dollar. The latest numbers indicated that the unemployment rate fell to 6.8 per cent in September, from 7.0 per cent in August. This was a bit of a surprise, as was the 74,100 increase in jobs for the month of September. Analysts had expected tamer numbers.

With this good news, the loonie is seeing a bit of a boost against European currencies, whose economies are not surprising to the upside. Many hope that the Bank of Canada will decide to increase interest rates again soon, since the rate has been at 1.0 per cent for the last four years.

The Canadian dollar isn’t having the same luck against its US counterpart today, however. With oil prices slightly lower, and with the US economy doing much better, the loonie is down against the greenback.

At 10:46 GMT USD/CAD is up to 1.1253 from the open at 1.1199. EUR/CAD is down to 1.4236 from the open at 1.4281. GBP/CAD is down to 1.7946 from the open at 1.8014.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Canadian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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Yen Gains, Downside Threat Remains

By , October 13, 2014 4:30 pm

1,000 yenThe Japanese yen rose today against the US dollar and the Great Britain pound, which were demonstrating softness at the current trading session, but was unable to outperform the euro, which is now trying to gain ground after it has halted its long decline.

The Monday’s trading session was rather quiet as markets in many countries, including Canada, Japan and the United States, were closed for various holidays. The yen managed to gain versus other weak currencies, like the dollar and the sterling, but its own strength was not enough to outperform stronger currencies.

While the yen demonstrated strong performance since the middle of September, there are reasons for the currency to halt its rally. Japan’s economic recovery proceeds not as fast as Japanese officials have hoped, reducing the attractiveness of the yen. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for Japan, confirming that the country’s economy experiences difficulties.

USD/JPY declined from 107.54 to 106.87 as of 21:16 GMT today. GBP/JPY fell from 172.86 to 171.91, trading near the lowest level since September 10. At the same time, EUR/JPY climbed from 135.85 to 136.34, bouncing from the daily low of 135.55 — the lowest rate since November 21, 2013.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Japanese Yen, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

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