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Dollar Retains Support as Safe Haven

By , January 20, 2015 9:30 pm

Focus on hundred dollarsThe US dollar backed off a little today following yesterday’s gains. The currency remains strong as signs of slower global growth support demand for the greenback in its role of a safe haven.

There were plenty of reasons for investors to seek safety. One of them was the downward revision of the global growth forecast by the International Monetary Fund. Another was the lackluster growth of the Chinese economy. While the quarterly data was not terrible, China’s economic expansion for the whole 2014 was the slowest since 1990.

The situation in the eurozone also feeds the need for safety. With prospects for quantitative easing from the European Central Bank and concerns about Greece, traders feel that they need a haven.

EUR/USD ticked up to 1.1562 as of 2:14 GMT today following the drop from 1.1604 to 1.1548 yesterday. GBP/USD gained from 1.5142 to 1.5150. USD/JPY down to 118.46 after yesterday’s jump from 117.56 to 118.79 (1.1 percent).

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

Earlier News About the US Dollar:

Forex News

Yen Retreats, Retains Support from Safe-Haven Demand

By , January 6, 2015 5:20 pm

Many 10,000-yen notesThe Japanese yen retreated a bit today following yesterday’s rally. The currency remains relatively strong though thanks to wide-spread demand for safe currencies among Forex market participants.

Safe-haven demand was driving the yen up previously and still remains a supportive factor for the currency. While it is usually news from Europe that make traders worried, yesterday’s economic data from the United States was not good as well, fueling risk aversion on the FX market. Both the US services Purchasing Managers’ Index and factory orders disappointed market analysts.

As for macroeconomic indicators from Japan itself, the monetary base expanded in December, suggesting that stimulating measures from the Bank of Japan have effect. The monetary stimulus remains a negative factor for the yen, but at for the time being need for safety plays a bigger role in the currency’s performance.

USD/JPY ticked up from 118.38 to 118.76 as of 00:08 GMT today after falling 1 percent yesterday. EUR/JPY edged higher from 140.75 to 141.03 following the 1.4 percent drop during the previous trading session, and GBP/JPY went up from 179.33 to 179.74 after tumbling as much as 1.7 percent yesterday.

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

Forex News

Syria Denounces Saudi Support to Terrorism

By , January 4, 2015 8:39 pm

Syria Denounces Saudi Support to Terrorism

Posted 2015-01-05 00:27 GMT

Damascus — The Syrian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Faisal Mekdad today accused Saudi Arabia of being one of the main responsible for the massacres and war unleashed against this Levantine nation.

The Saudi killing machine keeps shedding the blood of Syrians without mercy, nor moral or religious scruples, denounced the Deputy Foreign Minister in an article published in the daily Al Binaa.

Al Mekdad said that the government of that Muslim nation made a pact with Israel, the main enemy of the Arabs.

According to the Deputy Minister, the responsibility for the crimes committed against the Syrian people falls on the shoulders of Saudi authorities.

He also condemned the support of Turkey, United States, France and United Kingdom to extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

“History will not forgive the Saudi royal family financing murderers in Syria”, he warned.

More than 200 thousand people have died since the conflict began in Syria in March 2011, and millions were forced to leave their homes.

Assyrian International News Agency

Ruble Gains with Support from Bank of Russia

By , December 17, 2014 12:58 pm

Top view on various RUB billsThe Russian ruble jumped as attempts of the Bank of Russia to stem the currency’s drop resulted in a success, at least for now. The central bank was selling dollar and pledged to help companies to meet their foreign-currency debt obligations.

The Bank of Russia revealed measures it is going to take for stabilizing the financial sector. Among them, the central bank mentioned:

In order to limit the impact of revaluation of assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies on prudential ratios of credit institutions, the Bank of Russia intends to grant credit institutions a temporary right to use the exchange rate computed for the previous quarter when calculating prudential requirements for operations in foreign currencies.

While the previous attempts to bolster the ruble were unsuccessful, the currency performed well after the central bank made the announcement. How long the ruble will stay firm remains to be seen.

USD/RUB fell from 68.3270 to 61.5171 as if 18:21 GMT today.

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

Forex News

Australian Dollar Dips as Fundamentals Fail to Support

By , December 4, 2014 6:37 am

The Australian dollar dipped today, falling to a new multi-year low against its US counterpart. The currency declined even though macroeconomic data from Australia was positive and should have supported the currency.

Australian retail sales grew 0.4 percent in October, at the same rate as in the previous two months. The trade balance deficit shrank by A$ 0.91 billion to A$ 1.32 billion in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, more than analysts have predicted. The positive indicators were not able to help the Aussie though. Forex traders were avoiding riskier currencies ahead of today’s monetary policy decision of the European Central Bank.

AUD/USD tumbled from 0.8402 to 0.8375 as of 11:50 GMT today, and its daily low of 0.8355 was the weakest rate since July 2010. AUD/JPY dropped from 100.66 to 100.43.

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

Earlier News About the Australian Dollar:

Forex News

Australian Dollar Dips as Fundamentals Fail to Support

By , December 4, 2014 6:37 am

The Australian dollar dipped today, falling to a new multi-year low against its US counterpart. The currency declined even though macroeconomic data from Australia was positive and should have supported the currency.

Australian retail sales grew 0.4 percent in October, at the same rate as in the previous two months. The trade balance deficit shrank by A$ 0.91 billion to A$ 1.32 billion in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, more than analysts have predicted. The positive indicators were not able to help the Aussie though. Forex traders were avoiding riskier currencies ahead of today’s monetary policy decision of the European Central Bank.

AUD/USD tumbled from 0.8402 to 0.8375 as of 11:50 GMT today, and its daily low of 0.8355 was the weakest rate since July 2010. AUD/JPY dropped from 100.66 to 100.43.

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

Earlier News About the Australian Dollar:

Forex News

Loonie Finds a Little Support in Forex Trading

By , December 1, 2014 5:08 am

Some Canadian dollar billsCanadian dollar is getting a little help today in currency trading on the FX market, thanks to better economic data. The embattled loonie is making some progress against some of its major counterparts, thanks to better GDP data and expectations of a good manufacturing report. However, these gains aren’t expected to last as oil prices continue to drop.

The economic news out of Canada has been generally good for the last couple of days. The GDP data was positive, and many are expecting today’s release of the RBC Purchasing Managers’ Index will prove helpful as well. With all of this, the loonie is gaining ground against some of its counterparts, particularly the euro and the US dollar.

Even though things are looking pretty good for the Canadian economy right now, though, it might not remain so for long. Concerns about the situation with oil prices are likely to continue to weigh. With OPEC willing to let oil prices fall to the point that American oil companies are no longer profitable, the loonie is likely to lose more ground.

At 11:45 GMT USD/CAD is lower, dropping to 1.1410 from the open at 1.1421. EUR/CAD is down to 1.4224 from the open at 1.4244. GBP/CAD is up to 1.7933 from the open at 1.7879.

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

Forex News

Support for IS Higher in Europe, US Than Syria and Iraq

By , November 29, 2014 1:03 am

A new study of posts from Arabic-speaking social media users has uncovered that support for the Islamic State is higher in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and the United States than it is in Iraq and Syria — the two countries partially controlled by the jihadist group.

The Italian study analyzed over two million Twitter and Facebook posts in Arabic in a three-and-a-half month period starting in July 2014.

According to a report published Thursday by the Guardian, 19.7 percent of posts originating from Iraq and 7.6% of posts from Syria were supportive of the Islamic State, compared to Belgium (31.0%), the United Kingdom (23.8%), the United States (21.4%) and France (20.8%).

Germany (15.7%), Canada (15.3%) and Israel (13.4%) were also the source of posts supportive of the renegade caliphate.

The Shin Bet estimates that some 30 Israelis have actually gone and joined the fighting in Syria since the eruption of the civil war in the country in March 2011. The vast majority of such travelers come from fundamentalist Salafi backgrounds and are affiliated with jihadist organizations such as the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, both internationally recognized as terror groups.

The Islamic State has established a non-recognized religious caliphate in the area between Iraq and Syria it currently controls and has brought heavy-handed law and order tactics based in Sharia law to its subjects.

Rights groups have strongly criticized the group for a bevy of human rights abuses and repressive measures against women and religious minorities.

Although most posts about the group were largely negative in nature, posts from Qatar (47.6%) and Pakistan (35.1%) were the most supportive of IS, while posts originating in Iran (5.8%), a country with a large Shiite majority currently at war with the Sunni rebel group, were the least supportive of all the countries listed in the report.

It should be noted that the study only analyzed posts about the Islamic State in Arabic, so the group’s popularity was not measured in posts written in different languages.

Dr. Luigi Curini of Voices from the Blogs, a company founded by academics at Milan University, has been on the forefront of a new form of analysis of online opinions and postulated that those closest to IS were more likely to harbor negative sentiments about the group.

In conjunction with statistician Stefano Iacus, political scientist Andrea Ceron and host of translators, Curini also uncovered a range of polarizing opinions about the Islamic State’s legitimacy and religious authority.

The team also compared the content of 90,000 news articles on IS from a host of countries analyzed in the study to the posts of Arabic speakers about the group, discovering little to no correlation to the opinions of official and state-run media sources and the sentiments of social media users.

“By analyzing social media we can see there is not always this homogeneous sentiment against [the Islamic State],” Curini was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

A detailed dissection of the study has shown that posts in support of the Islamic State often lauded the group’s perceived ability of “defending Islam” (37.5%), spreading the Islamic faith (26.2%) and state building (17.4%), while posts that expressed negative opinions of the group chided the Islamic State for using religion for political aims (32.8%), violence (28.9%), and attacking personal and religious freedoms (17.0%).

Only 8.3% of posts in favor of the group expressed support for fighting the West, while merely 4.7% of posts deriding the Islamic State criticized their widespread use of terrorism.

The Islamic State has arguably the most pervasive online presence of any extremist group in history and relies heavily on the Internet to build international support and recruit operatives.

Assyrian International News Agency

80 Percent of Holland’s Young Turkish Muslims Support Jihad

By , November 18, 2014 2:50 am

Is the Netherlands becoming a netherworld of Islamic extremism? If a new poll can be believed, this very well may be the case.

The research, conducted by the Motivaction group in Amsterdam, concerns the attitude of Dutch Turks between the ages of 18 and 34 about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and found that “80% saw nothing wrong in jihad, or holy war, against non-believers,” writes DutchNews.nl. The website also reports, “The survey found 90% of young Turks think those fighting against Syrian president Assad’s troops are ‘heroes’ and half thought it would be a good thing if Dutch Muslims went to join the fight.”

The reaction by Dutch politicians has been swift and unsure. During a Wednesday debate on integration, Dutch members of parliament (MPs) “from across the political spectrum,” writes Dutch News, “called for more research … to investigate why youths have such radical views.”

But one MP who will be neither shocked by the poll nor unsure about its meaning is the founder and leader of the Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders. The most colorful and controversial Dutch politician in recent memory, the blonde-haired Wilders has long inveighed against the inroads Islam has made into his nation and Western Europe in general. He bluntly states that Islam — not just “Islamism” — poses a clear and present danger to the West. And he is currently making this case while on a tour of the United States.

For instance, Wilders said in a Palm Beach, Florida, “Restoration Weekend” speech just yesterday, “Of course, there are many moderate Muslims. I believe in moderate people, but I do not believe in a moderate Islam. There is only one Islam — the Islam of the Koran, the Hadith and the life of Muhammad, who was a terrorist and a warlord.”

Wilders refers to the fact that, unlike Jesus, known as the “Prince of Peace,” Muhammad launched exactly 100 military campaigns, 27 of which he participated in himself. And much as how Christians would ask, “What would Jesus do?” when seeking guidance, Muslims view Muhammad as “the perfect man” and a role model. Speaking on Saturday of how this influences believers today, Wilders said, “Last Summer, my home town, The Hague, witnessed scenes which brought back memories of the darkest period in our history, the Nazi era. Sympathizers of the Islamic State paraded in our streets. They carried swastikas; they carried the black flags of the Islamic State. They shouted ‘Death to the Jews’ and ‘Oh Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming for you.’”

Citing another example in a Nashville, Tennessee, speech on October 21, Wilders said:

In Britain, Australia and Canada, soldiers wearing their uniform in public have been attacked and even murdered by jihadis.

In Germany, the authorities fear for an Islamic “holy war” in the streets of the German towns. Earlier this month, Kurds were attacked by ISIS sympathizers in Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover and other German cities.

In Belgium, a non-Muslim shopkeeper has been threatened with decapitation if he does not pay 50,000 euros to the Syria fighters.

65 percent of [Dutch] Moroccans between 12 and 23 are suspected of a crime.

After mentioning in a September 2008 speech at the Hudson Institute that non-Muslim women in Holland routinely have the pejorative “whore, whore” hurled at them by Muslim men, Wilders also pointed out:

The Pew Research Center reported that half of French Muslims see their loyalty to Islam as greater than their loyalty to France. One-third of French Muslims do not object to suicide attacks. The British Centre for Social Cohesion reported that one-third of British Muslim students are in favour of a worldwide caliphate. A Dutch study reported that half of Dutch Muslims admit they “understand” the 9/11 attacks.

And the inroads Islam has made into Europe are striking. Illustrating this phenomenon in his 2008 talk, Wilders said:

Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim…. In many cities the majority of the under-18 population is Muslim.

In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be mentioned, because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that would be an insult to Muslims. Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to all pupils.

Satellite dishes are not pointed to local TV stations, but to stations in the country of origin. In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims…. The history of the Holocaust can in many cases no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity. In England Sharia courts are now officially part of the British legal system. Many neighbourhoods in France are no-go areas for women without head scarves.

A total of fifty-four million Muslims now live in Europe. San Diego University recently calculated that a staggering 25 percent of the population in Europe will be Muslim just 12 years from now. [Historian] Bernard Lewis has predicted a Muslim majority by the end of this century.

Wilders contends that the immigration driving these demographic trends is part of the process of establishing a worldwide caliphate (Muslim realm). It’s not just through “terror and violence” that this is achieved, he told the American Spectator last month. “There are other methods, such as conquest by hijra (immigration). Muhammad himself gave this example of hijra when he conquered Medina.” It should also be noted that late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made mention of this, saying in 2006, “There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”

Wilders’ outspoken opposition to Islam comes with a price. Under constant police protection and living in a safe house in the Netherlands, Wilders fears suffering the same fate as countrymen and Islam critic Theo van Gogh, a descendent of famed painter Vincent van Gogh, who 10 years ago this November 2 was murdered by 26-year-old Moroccan Dutchman Mohammed Bouyeri.

Wilders is also targeted by his own government. After being acquitted of 2009 “hate speech” charges two years later, he now faces a trial for “incitement” to hate speech for merely asking a question at a campaign rally. The politician points out that this reflects a wider surrender to Islam by a Western Europe “in the grip of cultural relativism” and that “no longer believes in the superiority of its own Western Judeo-Christian” culture.

Yet opposition to Wilders by the elite may not reflect feeling on the street. Already one of Holland’s biggest parties, Wilders’ Party of Freedom is rising in the polls, as its policy of ending all Muslim immigration and reversing the nation’s Islamization resonates with the electorate. One survey indicates, says Wilders, that “two thirds of the Dutch are of the opinion that the Islamic culture does not belong to the Netherlands.”

And hate-speech charges or not, Wilders certainly isn’t tempering his message. Speaking in the Netherlands Parliament just two months ago, he called the Koran “the hunting permit for millions of Muslims, a license to kill,” and “the Constitution of the Islamic State.” “Recognize that Islam is the problem. Start the de-Islamization of the Netherlands,” he said. “It is not a clash of civilizations that is going on, but a clash between barbarism and civilization.”

Assyrian International News Agency

TTIP: Cameron pledges support for EU-US trade deal

By , November 17, 2014 7:56 pm

TTIP: Cameron pledges support for EU-US trade deal
By: BBC on: 17.11.2014 [17:04 ] (71 reads)

TTIP: Cameron pledges support for EU-US trade deal

Francois Hollande, Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel at the G20 in Brisbane EU leaders and US President Barack Obama discussed TTIP earlier

David Cameron has pledged to put “rocket boosters” behind plans for an EU-US free trade deal.

The UK prime minister said EU and US leaders had met and all agreed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) “is a deal we want”.

Speaking at the G20 summit, he said arguments against TTIP were “weak” and fears over the NHS were “nonsense”.

Many opponents are concerned about TTIP giving firms power to sue governments if they are hit by policy changes.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, has called for the NHS to be excluded from the deal.

The EU is currently analysing responses to a consultation on a controversial element of TTIP which would allow foreign investors to go to an international tribunal for compensation if a government breaks the rules in a way that harms the company’s interests.

‘No threat’

Mr Cameron said he “sensed an enthusiasm” from EU leaders and US President Barack Obama during a meeting in Brisbane earlier, and was now “hopeful of progress” on TTIP.

The UK prime minister said the deal could be supported by the “classic free trade argument for growth and jobs and investment”.

“The opportunities for Britain of trading more with the United States of America are clear,” he said.

Protesters marching against the TTIP trade agreement Protests took place last month in the UK and other countries including Germany and France
A banner outside Parliament saying: “Hands off democracy #noTTIP” Critics say TTIP’s powers for companies to sue governments are anti-democratic
Speaking about concerns over disputes between companies and countries, Mr Cameron said: “We’ve signed trade deal after trade deal and it’s never been a problem in the past.”

On the NHS, he said: “Some people argue in some way this could damage the NHS. I think that is nonsense. It’s our National Health Service. It’s in the public sector, it will stay in the public sector. That’s not going to change. It will remain free at the point of use.

“There’s no threat, I believe, from TTIP to the National Health Service and we should just knock that on the head as an empty threat.”

Anti-TTIP protests were held last month in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

At their annual conference in September, delegates from UK unions unanimously backed a motion opposing TTIP.

Many unions focused on the potential impact on the NHS, saying TTIP would allow private firms to sue the government if it chose to return privately run services to the public sector.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused David Cameron of “riding roughshod” over objections and “trying to brush the threat of TTIP under the carpet”.

He asked: “If it is not a threat then why doesn’t David Cameron just make an explicit commitment to use his veto in Europe to get the NHS out TTIP?”

He drew comparisons with steps taken by the French government to exempt their film industry from the agreement.

Food safety fears

One aim of the negotiations is to reduce the costs to business of complying with regulations.

Critics say this could lead to lower standards of protection for workers, consumers and the environment, with food safety a particular concern for some.

But Mr Cameron said TTIP would give the EU and the US a joint interest in areas like food and environmental standards.

Also at the G20, Mr Cameron reiterated his warning of possible further sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

He said Russia must stop sending troops into the country to support pro-Russian separatists – something the Kremlin denies.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30073357

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