Tuesday 30th June 2015
NEWS TICKER, MONDAY, JUNE 29TH : The mobile service provider CM Telecom says the company will move into mobile payments and has founded CM Payments, a new payment service provider (PSP) that will operate internationally. CM Payments opens its office in Amsterdam. CM was founded in 1999 in Netherlands and specialises in worldwide mobile messaging and payments. The company declares they already have in-house technology and the platform, which can process a large number of transactions per second utilises this technology for the expanded service. The platform also offers connectivity to multiple payment methods including VISA, MasterCard, Paypal, iDeal, Microincasso and Bancontact (Belgium). CM Payments wants to expand cooperation with a number of existing CM customers by using the capabilities of the payment platform. The group consists of, among others, authorities, fundraising institutions, media, e-commerce and telecom players. After a closed beta period, CM Payments will go public. - Despite offering the first prepaid MasterCard with 14 currencies on a single card at ‘spread free’ exchange rates, Centtrip is urging holidaymakers visiting Greece in the next few days to physically take enough spending money for their entire holiday, because it believes local merchants may impose limits on how much they will accept by card, or reject cards altogether as they fear they will not be able to access funds from their own banks. Centtrip hopes that the level of uncertainty facing Greece will be removed soon, and that it can start recommending people use cards again when visiting the country. Greece has announced that banks will be closed until July 6TH – the day after a referendum on bailout proposals, and there is a €60 euro limit on ATM withdrawals. However, foreign tourists, a key driver of the Greek economy, will be exempt from the restrictions. Brian Jamieson, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Centtrip, said: “Although customers will be able to use our Centtrip card and others at ATMs, they will be faced with long queues to withdraw their money. Local merchants may also impose limits on how much they will accept by card or reject these altogether because they may be concerned about accessing funds from their own bank. During the current situation in Greece and the uncertainty that prevails, we are advising people to take all the spending money they think they will need for their entire holiday in hard physical Euros. As the situation develops, we will provide further recommendations to our clients and to those travelling to Greece.” - Scotiabank's Commodity Price Index climbed by 4.7% month-over-month (m/m) in May -- the second consecutive monthly gain -- though the All Items Index remains -26.5% below a year earlier. "While global economic conditions remain lacklustre, international oil prices have lifted off bottom and supply disruptions in Western Canada's oil patch have pushed up domestic netbacks," says Patricia Mohr, vice president of Economics and Commodity Market Specialist at Scotiabank. "May and June have witnessed an extraordinary narrowing of the discounts on Western Canada's light and heavy crude oil off West Texas Intermediate (WTI) -- the North American benchmark -- a trend which will continue into July. The Forest Product Index edged down in May by -0.2% m/m and is still -11.5% below a year earlier. However, strong US housing permits in May and a growing backlog of sold, but not yet started units, points to stronger residential construction in coming months. The basic supply of shelter in the U.S. is tightening, with apartment vacancy rates at a mere 4.2% - propelling multiple-unit building permits to an annualized 592,000 units in May, the highest level since January 1990. Western Spruce-Pine-Fir 2x4 lumber prices have jumped back to US$300 per thousand board feet from US$262 in April and US$256 in May. After investors bid up LME zinc prices as high as $1.09 per pound in early May, zinc prices have unwound alongside copper to the US$0.92 mark in late June. However, closure of the Century mine in Australia and Lisheen in Ireland in 2015:Q3 will tighten world supplies, sending prices significantly higher by year end. Chinese interest in copper and other mining investments remains strong - a sign that the 'bull run' in base metals is expected to return later in the decade.

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Bunking the myth of oil price hikes and speculation

Monday, 05 March 2012
Bunking the myth of oil price hikes and speculation The question of whether speculators are responsible for the recent spikes in the price of oil has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the oil market in the last few years. Most recently it has prompted US regulators to put limits on some speculative positions and re-define what they consider to be speculative positions. Vanja Dragomanovich met up with Rita D'Eclessia, professor at the Department of Economic Theory and Quantitative Methods for Political Choices at the University of Rome and a visiting lecturer at Birkbeck University in London, who has run these theories through a set of mathematical tests and has produced some slightly surprising results. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The question of whether speculators are responsible for the recent spikes in the price of oil has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the oil market in the last few years. Most recently it has prompted US regulators to put limits on some speculative positions and re-define what they consider to be speculative positions. Vanja Dragomanovich met up with Rita D'Eclessia, professor at the Department of Economic Theory and Quantitative Methods for Political Choices at the University of Rome and a visiting lecturer at Birkbeck University in London, who has run these theories through a set of mathematical tests and has produced some slightly surprising results.

Vanja Dragomanovich (VD): Why has the issue of oil prices attracted so much attention outside the actual oil market?
Rita D'Eclessia (RD’A): Analysis and empirical evidence shows that four out of the last five global recessions were preceded by oil shocks. In the case of the 2007-2008 crisis oil prices cannot be ignored as a culprit of what happened: the oil price increased over 300% and this caused the annual fuel bill of OECD countries to increase dramatically. Exceptional oil price volatility affects many economic variables and their related markets. Oil price fluctuations affect consumers, producers and marketers, especially in terms of costs, incentives to invest in technology and trading strategies. The importance of oil prices is further increased by the fact that other forms of energy such as coal, gas, and, to a lesser extent, electricity are sometimes priced in order to compete with oil, so that oil price fluctuations become reflected in broader energy price changes.

VD: As part of your research you looked into the link between the volatility in oil prices and the involvement of speculators in the market. Can you talk us through your findings?
RD’A: Economists and financial experts are divided over who they think was responsible for driving crude oil prices to their peaks in the first half of 2008. Basically trend-following speculation and institutional commodity index-buying have reinforced the output pressure on prices. In my research I tried to identify which economic and financial variables provide insights into understanding oil price dynamics. Our proposition was that the changes in the oil price are an example of an economic variable which is largely unpredictable. In such a context the role of futures markets, considered as a measure of the speculative component in the market, is also investigated. However, our conclusion was that using the data we had, we could not find any evidence that the oil price depends on speculative activity in the market.



VD: What data did you base your research on? For instance, how did you define speculators and how did you distinguish between speculative and non-speculative activity? Was your research based on information from several commodity exchanges?
RD’A: I set up an econometric model to capture possible long run equilibrium between some macroeconomic variables and some financial variables. The data used to measure speculation is the number of the benchmark US futures oil contracts, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot crude oil held by speculators; this is data published by the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
I used monthly West Texas Intermediate spot oil prices between 1993 and 2011 and assumed that speculators are participants who trade oil as an investment and not to hedge.

VD: Once you established that the link between speculative activity and oil price volatility was weak which other factors proved most influential in the oil market?
RD’A: Surprisingly, by far the strongest influence is the price of gold, followed by the strength of the euro against the dollar. For instance we found that for any one basis point move in the euro/dollar exchange rate the oil price moved by $2.8 dollars. Given that the euro was only introduced in 2000 we ran the analysis using the Deutschmark from 1993 till the introduction of the euro.
In all, we tried six different variables to try and find some meaningful correlation. We tried open interest, US interest rates, imports of WTI and WTI oil futures, all of which proved not to have a strong impact on the oil market.

VD: Your analysis was primarily statistical. However, in that period of time oil would have also moved for other reasons such as geopolitical crises, conflicts in the Middle East, economic crises, and political changes in Europe. How do those factors feature in your analysis?
RD’A: That is correct, but we can infer the influence of political events through the fluctuations of the dollar exchange rate and the price of gold. In any case the debate continues; oil price changes certainly cannot be explained solely by looking at the supply and demand dynamics.

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