Wednesday 27th July 2016
NEWS TICKER: JULY 27TH 2016: The ESMA registers portal will undergo a technical update tomorrow. The machine-to-machine service will no longer support connections via SSL v1, SSL v2, SSL v3 and RC4 - All machine-to-machine services will be available via HTTPS only while HTTP connectivity will no longer be available. Full details are available on the portal itself – Twitter looked to have missed second-quarter revenue numbers and gave a gloomy outlook for growth in Q3. Q2 revenues of $602m and earnings per share of 13 cents disappointed analyst, who expected revenues of c.$607m, while EPS beat estimates of $0.10. Twitter says Q3 revenue will be somewhere between $590m and $610m. Twitter’s shares have dropped 20% year-to-date, and fell by more than 11% in after-hours trading after its results were announced. The firm says it believes advertising will migrate to video and explained that is why it secured streaming rights to NFL and NBA games in the US. Chief operating officer Adam Bain says, “There is a whole new set of video budgets out there today. These are these online video budgets. It’s about a $10bn marketplace in the US. These are video budgets that today we basically don’t qualify for, since the spend is going in other areas.” However, investors look to be wary of whether user growth (up only 1%) will meet expectations. The next benchmark report will be from Facebook (expected today), which analysts think will be strong. - Deutsche Bank AG reports that its second-quarter net income fell 98% from a year earlier, hurt by weaker performances in trading and investment banking, as well as restructuring costs. John Cryan, chief executive officer of the German bank, said that more needs to be done to control costs and that low interest rates will increasingly affect customers -- Verizon Communications has agreed to a $4.83bn cash deal for Yahoo's web assets as it looks to grow its digital media and advertising business - Apple reports a 15% drop in Q3 revenues because of falling iPhone sales, revenue and average selling price. Moreover, the firm’s market share of global smartphone shipments also fell off in Q1 by as much as 3 percentage points to 14.8% following a couple of years’ worth of impressive growth, particularly in China. Apple is meeting growing competition from Chinese smartphone vendors such as Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi. Apple reported an overall decline in revenues of $7bn to $42.4bn in Q3, down 15% year on year, mostly due to a drop in iPhone shipments - The Catalan Parliament has voted 72-10 in favour of the conclusions of a pro-independence "constituent process" report today, a move that opposition parties, two of which abandoned the chamber in protest, described as "wholly illegal". MPs from the Popular Party in Catalonia (PPC) and Ciudadanos left the chamber in protest before the vote took place. Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) MPs remained seated but did not vote. The report, commissioned by separatist parties in the parliament, recommend measures that could lead to a unilateral declaration of independence. Earlier this month, the Spanish Constitutional Court warned the Catalan Parliament that its commission could not study "the opening of a constituent process in Catalonia that leads to the creation of a future Catalan constitution and an independent Catalan state". Esquerrra (ERC) leader Oriol Junqueras tweeted that "we have the democratic mandate to build a new country, clean and fair, and a mandate, for us, is a duty!" -- Jan Dehn, head of research at Ashmore, in a client note today made the case for allocating to emerging markets, even if uncertainties linger in developed markets. He suggests that whilet there are some risks involved, they are fairly priced, and insists that the fears pertaining to EM are misplaced. “Emerging Markets (EM) have performed a lot better this year than for some time. EM currencies are outperforming the Dollar and EM local bonds are up strongly year to date in Dollar terms. Despite the rally EM bonds still pay about 5-6 times higher yield than similar duration bonds in the US, while many other developed market bonds pay negative yields. The reasons for EM’s better performance are many, including better valuations, stronger technicals and improving relative and absolute fundamentals. As recently as last week, the IMF revised down developed market growth again, including -0.2% revisions of US and UK growth. China’s growth forecast was revised up.” -- The EBRD is considering extending a loan of up to $180m to RGP Kazvodkhoz (the "Company"), wholly owned by the Government of Kazakhstan, for rehabilitation of the water supply and irrigation infrastructure in South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl and Aktobe regions of Kazakhstan. The loan will be backed by a sovereign guarantee -- The unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to launch an IPO in October involving up to 330m primary and secondary shares (some 18.6% of the company’s shares) at up to P90 per share, with a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange tentatively set for November 10th. The IPO is now awaiting regulatory approval and follows on from the recent$532m maiden issue by cement maker Cemex Holdings Philippines. Manila’s benchmark stock index touched a 15-month high last week, with investor confidence boosted by the country’s economic performance --

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Gold outlook remains tied to political risks

Wednesday, 08 February 2012
Gold outlook remains tied to political risks If 2011 was all about a strong investment case for gold, the sell-off at the very end of last year heralded a more cautious approach to the yellow metal. Most analysts believe gold will continue to rise in the first half of 2012, possibly by as much as $300 to $500 a troy ounce. However, they also warn that prices are likely to start falling in the second half of this year and continue on a downward path into 2013, while platinum and palladium could climb steadily. By Vanya Dragomanovich. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/media/k2/items/cache/5214bdb529ff52c2bc08d9b03f97b94e_XL.jpg

If 2011 was all about a strong investment case for gold, the sell-off at the very end of last year heralded a more cautious approach to the yellow metal. Most analysts believe gold will continue to rise in the first half of 2012, possibly by as much as $300 to $500 a troy ounce. However, they also warn that prices are likely to start falling in the second half of this year and continue on a downward path into 2013, while platinum and palladium could climb steadily. By Vanya Dragomanovich.

The vast strategic allocations—not only from speculators but also from private banking and high net worth individuals—which have shaped the precious metals market over the past two and a half years have now subsided, according to Nick Moore, a commodity analyst at RBS. “To us this had always seemed inevitable. Investment demand could not expand perpetually,” he says.
Even so, this is no grounds to become bearish because the arguments in favour of investing in gold remain solid, adds Moore. Last year, it has to be said, was busier than most, dotted with events that inevitably propelled investors towards gold as a safe haven. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the well-worn list: the Arab Spring; the Japan earthquake; the conflict in Libya; the downgrading of the US sovereign debt; the Greek debt crisis. Equally inevitably, gold prices shot up from $1,370 a troy ounce in January 2011 to a high of more than $1,900/oz in September. The subsequent drop to $1,670/oz by year end was as much about cashing in on the year's rally as it was about deleveraging while the debt crisis exerted its wasting grip on Europe.
It is patently clear already that a lot of the uncertainty of 2011 will overhang across the market, at least for the first half of 2012. The list of reasons is again very obvious: the chronic European debt problem; fragile growth in the global economy; and unsettling political stresses emanating from Iran and the US, even potentially Syria. All of these elements will continue to inject volatility into the gold market.
With this amount of uncertainty it would be foolish to write off gold as an investment. Despite the sell-off in December, a large proportion of investors across the board—be they retail, central banks, large institutions or speculators––continue to look at gold either as an alternative currency or a diversification asset designed to protect against losses from other investments.
In the past two months investors have been divided in their approach to gold. While short-term speculators liquidated large positions in December, cashing in on a rally that happened over the course of 2011, long-term investors, particularly ETF investors, stuck faithfully to their positions. Speculative positions in Comex gold are at their lowest levels since 2009 but physical gold ETF holdings reached record levels of 2,300 tonnes in December.
Since the beginning of this year “fresh money has been put to work and the energy sector and precious metals have so far been the main recipients,” particularly gold and silver, says Ole Sloth Hansen, senior commodity manager at Saxo Bank. One of the key factors working in favour of gold is the low interest rate environment which currently exists in over half of G20 countries, he adds.
Further monetary easing in Europe, China and potentially a round of QE3 in the US will increase liquidity and drive the gold price to new records, possibly as early as the first half of 2012. “Liquidity will be a stronger influence on market performance than macroeconomic turbulence,” says Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB bank.
The European sovereign debt crisis will also be supportive at the retail level because at times of crisis retail investors tend to buy gold bars and coins. While at first glance this type of demand may seem like a small driver of the market, industry consultancy Thomson Reuters GFMS says that last year bar and coin buying rivalled that of ETF investment flows.
“Private investors in Europe and the US are the biggest buyers of bars and coins; they buy it for safety because they are worried about the purchasing power of paper currencies,” says Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank.
Another big contributor to a high gold price in 2011 was the fact that central banks bought some 450 tonnes of the metal. Analysts expect the trend to subside this year but not to stop. “Central banks in emerging markets are still heavily under-invested in gold,” says Fritsch. “In 2011 Mexico for instance bought 100 tonnes of gold and Russia, Turkey and South Korea were all major buyers. We don't expect to see the same amount of central bank buying this year but we do expect central banks to buy smaller amounts, for instance Russia,” he says. Fritsch argues that if Russia does come back as a buyer it will most likely absorb some of the domestic gold production but this will mean that less gold will make it onto the global market.
One of the two key risk factors for gold is the strength of the dollar, particularly when it weakens the currency of a big gold buyer such as India. When the rupee plunged against the US currency in late 2011, domestic gold buying as good as dried up. The other potential threat to gold is a recovery in equity markets which annuls the reasons for safe-haven buying.
Looking at other precious metals such as silver, platinum and palladium, there is an interesting investment case to be made—particularly for palladium. All three were sold off heavily at the end of last year to the point that they are now considered relatively cheap.
“Within the precious metals group we see palladium as the better pick given its bias to the US and China,” says Deutsche Bank's Michael Lewis. The palladium price depends heavily on demands from the car industry which uses it to make catalytic converters, to cut CO2 emissions. In November 2011, US car sales rose by 14% and Chrysler said recently that its US sales rose 37% in December, the fastest of the top three US car manufacturers.
On the other hand, Chinese car sales slowed considerably in 2011 because of the phasing out of tax subsidies and car scrappage incentives. Yet even with that, China's sales of 18.5m cars in 2011 still outstripped the estimated 12.8m light vehicles sold in the US. This comes at a time investors in palladium futures cut their net long positions by 77% from August 2011 highs and when ETF investors reduced their exposure by 23% for the same period.
An important question this year is whether Russia will stick to current export volumes for palladium. The answer is actually a political one.  Although Russia's nickel miner Norilsk Nickel is the world's biggest palladium producer, stocks of palladium are ­state-controlled and sold through a government agency that never reveals how much stock it holds or plans to sell. For years analysts in the West have speculated that those stockpiles are about to come to an end, this year being no exception, but there is so far no material evidence to support this. The speculation may prove yet again to be a case of wishful thinking rather than actual fact.
Even so, Commerzbank expects palladium prices to recover noticeably over the course of this year and to hit $850 by the end of 2012, up from the current $680/oz.
There is a similar case to be argued for platinum, which is also used by the car industry and in jewellery. Platinum has traditionally traded at a higher price than gold, but with gold now the more expensive metal, jewellers, particularly in Asia, are switching to platinum as an alternative.
On the supply side, South Africa, the biggest platinum producing country, is facing problems with electricity supplies which could hamper platinum mining over coming months. However, at current prices, platinum miners are under pressure and on an all-in cost basis many are making losses. “We believe this is unsustainable in the long run and something has to give—the price has to recover or production growth will slow,” says RBS's Moore. He sees the $1,400/oz level as the floor and expects that any dips in prices below that figure will prove short-lived. In similar vein, Commerzbank forecasts platinum prices to rise to $1,850/oz by year end from the current $1,550/oz.
Silver is probably the most volatile of the three and not a market for the faint-hearted. “Silver has always been a volatile metal, but 2011 was a vintage year. The euphoria of the 89% February-April rally to a $50/oz peak was followed by the revulsion of a 35% collapse, the latter over just two weeks. A few months later, in September, an even more dramatic drop saw silver shed 40% of its value,” says Moore. This serves as a painful reminder for investors to tread cautiously, or at least not to leave their silver positions unchecked for lengthy periods.
This year the demand from the electrical and electronics industry, the key consumer of silver, will continue to support prices although consumption from solar cell makers is likely to slow after several years of fast growth.
RBS's Moore expects silver to rally from current levels to a peak of $34/oz in the third quarter, in line with gold, but to trend lower afterwards.

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