Asian shares push higher, shrug off global tension – Sean Seshadri

Asian stocks touched a three-year peak on Tuesday, despite lingering concerns about crises in Ukraine and Gaza, while the yen eased against the dollar and the euro.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent to its highest since 2011, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose about 1 percent after a national holiday closed markets on Monday.

“Investor sentiment has settled as the VIX has stayed calm,” said Akio Yoshino, chief economist at equity research and strategy department at Amundi Japan.The CBOE Volatility Index, which is a gauge of market risk aversion, jumped 32.2 percent on Friday in Asia, the biggest percentage rise since April 2013.

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U.S. shares slumped overnight, as the rising global tensions offset some upbeat U.S. earnings. So far this reporting period, 66 percent of S&P 500 companies have topped Wall Street’s profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 63 percent average since 1994.

But the three major U.S. indexes ended well off their lows, a sign that some appetite for riskier assets remained, and S&P 500 E-Mini futures edged higher in Asian trade.
Malaysia has reached an agreement with the leader of the separatist group to retrieve the bodies of the victims from last week’s downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as well as the plane’s two black boxes, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian death toll jumped to more than 500 and Israeli losses mounted as well, as the United States stepped up efforts to secure a ceasefire.

Lower U.S. Treasury yields continued to weigh on the dollar on Tuesday, after safety-seeking investors bought U.S. government debt in recent days.The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note stood at 2.472 percent in Asia, not far from its U.S. close of 2.475 percent.

The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond inched down to 3.262 percent from its U.S. close of 3.264 percent On Monday, when it fell as low as 3.249 percent, the lowest since June 2013.Investors also awaited U.S. consumer prices data due later in the session at 1230 GMT for clues as to the timing for monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department is expected to report that U.S. inflation eased slightly to 0.3 percent in June, after rising food prices pushed the index to its biggest increase in more than a year in May.The dollar edged higher on the day against its Japanese counterpart to 101.48 yen, while the euro stood at 137.25 yen, off last Friday’s five-month trough of 136.71 yen.

“Geopolitical developments channelled through higher oil prices will remain a key theme this week,” said Shinichiro Kadota, chief FX strategist at Barclays Bank in Tokyo.The euro was largely steady at $1.3524, pulling away from a five-month low of $1.3491 touched on Friday.

Crude oil futures slip lower on U.S. demand concerns – Sean Seshadri

Crude oil futures slipped lower on Friday, as concerns over U.S. demand still weighed, while worries over possible supply disruptions in the Middle East continued to subside.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in August traded at $102.73 a barrel during European morning trade, down 0.20%.

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Prices gained 0.63% on Thursday to settle at $102.93.Futures were likely to find support at $101.55 a barrel, Thursday’s low and resistance at $104.20, the high from July 8.

Oil prices weakened earlier in the week, after weekly supply data released Wednesday showed that total motor gasoline inventories in the U.S. increased by 0.6 million barrels last week, disappointing forecasts for a drop of 0.3 million barrels.

The unexpected increase in gasoline stocks during the summer driving season in the U.S. was bearish for oil prices.Prices were also hit after data ealier in the week showed that Chinese exports in June climbed 7.2% from a year earlier, missing expectations for a gain of 10.6%, while imports rose 5.5%, below forecasts for a 5.8% increase.

China’s trade surplus narrowed to $31.6 billion last month from a surplus of $35.92 billion in May, compared to estimates for a surplus of $35.0 billion.The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest oil consuming nations.Meanwhile, supply concerns eased in the Middle East and Africa despite geopolitical tensions in Iraq, Libya and Gaza.

Gold declines on Fed rate hike speculation – Sean Seshadri

Gold futures were lower on Monday, as robust U.S. nonfarm payrolls data released last week revived speculation over when the Federal Reserve may start to raise interest rates.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for August delivery shed 0.51%, or $6.80, to trade at $1,314.50 a troy ounce during U.S. morning hours. Prices held in a range between $1,312.50 and $1,321.70 an ounce.

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Gold prices were likely to find support at $1,305.40, the low from June 25 and resistance at $1,334.90, the high from July 1.
Also on the Comex, silver for September delivery slumped 0.88%, or 18.7 cents, to trade at $21.01 a troy ounce.

The U.S. Department of Labor said last week that non-farm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 288,000 in June, easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 212,000. The unemployment rate ticked down to 6.1% from 6.3% in May, the lowest in almost six years.

Investors now turned their attention to Wednesdays’ minutes of the Federal Reserve’s June meeting, with few other major U.S. economic reports on the calendar.

Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs brought forward its forecast for the first rate hike to the third quarter of 2015 from the first quarter of 2016, based on the strong improvement in the labor market over the past few months.Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for September delivery inched down 0.35%, or 1.1 cents, to trade at $3.259 a pound.

Gold edges higher as dollar slips on mixed U.S. data – Sean Seshadri

Gold futures traded to two-month highs on Monday after the dollar slipped on mixed U.S. economic indicators, which sent investors jumping to the sidelines to await the U.S. June jobs report due for release on Thursday.

Gold and the dollar tend to trade inversely with one another.On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for August delivery traded at 1,327.80 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.59%, up from a session low of $1,311.20 and off a high of $1,330.20.

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The August contract settled up 0.23% at $1,320.00 on Friday.Futures were likely to find support at $1,305.40 a troy ounce, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at $1,331.40, the high from April 14.

Soft regional manufacturing data offset upbeat housing data and prompted investors to avoid the greenback, which boosted gold’s appeal as a hedge.

The National Association of Realtors reported earlier that pending home sales jumped 6.1% in May from April, rising to its highest level since last September. May’s figure marked the largest increase since August 2010 and far surpassed forecasts for a 1.5% reading.

Still, the dollar slipped and gold rose after industry data released earlier revealed that the Chicago purchasing managers’ index declined to 62.6 this month from 65.5 in May, missing expectations for a 63.0 reading.

Investors were turning their attention to the U.S. June nonfarm payrolls report, which will release a day early on Thursday due to the Independence Day holiday on Friday, avoiding the dollar during the trading session ahead of time.Markets were eager for the release of a key manufacturing gauge on Tuesday as well.

NYMEX crude oil eases in Asia as Iraq concerns wane for now – Sean Seshadri

Crude oil prices eased in Asia on Monday as investors see signs that Iraq’s sectarian strife has eased as the government moves to shore up diplomatic support.

Last week, crude oil futures ended lower, as investors continued to unwind positions that had priced in the possibility of major supply disruptions stemming from the bloody Iraqi insurgency.

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On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for delivery in August traded at $105.48 a barrel, down 0.25%, after ending at $105.74 a barrel on Friday.

On the ICE Futures Exchange in London last week, Brent oil for August delivery fell to a session low of $112.90 a barrel on Friday, the weakest level since June 17, before settling at $113.30, up 0.08%, or 9 cents.

Despite Friday’s modest gain, the August Brent contract lost 1.31%, or $1.51 a barrel, on the week.Meanwhile the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts stood at $7.56 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, compared to $7.98 in the preceding week.

Oil prices moved lower amid indications Iraqi oil exports in the south remained insulated from the sectarian violence that has swept the northern part of the country in recent weeks.

Futures rallied to nine-month highs earlier in the month amid fears that an insurgency in northern Iraq would spread to the oil-rich south and disrupt the nation’s oil production.

Iraq produced approximately 3 million barrels a day of oil last month, making it OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer behind Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., upbeat consumer sentiment data released Friday failed to dispel concerns over the outlook for the wider economic recovery.

Gold slips as Fed official gives upbeat take on U.S. economy – Sean Seshadri

Gold futures fell on Thursday as investors brushed off sluggish U.S. data and avoided the commodity after a key Federal Reserve official gave an upbeat forecast for the economy.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for August delivery traded at 1,316.40 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, down 0.47%, up from a session low of $1,307.00 and off a high of $1,320.60.

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The August contract settled up 0.10% at $1,322.60 on Wednesday.Futures were likely to find support at $1,305.40 a troy ounce, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at $1,326.60, Tuesday’s high.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Fox Business Network earlier that an improving economy may make conditions ripe for interest rates to rise possibly in early 2015.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter of the year, far surpassing consensus forecasts for a decline of 1.7%, though markets quickly brushed off the dismal numbers as a weather-related disappointment.

“I think the market’s right to shake this off,” Bullard told the network, describing the contraction as an “aberration.”"If you throw out the first quarter and just look forward over the next four quarters, most forecasters have 3%-plus growth.”

Inflation, while still low, is on the rise and approaching the Fed’s 2% target.”My forecast actually has us moving through 2% and over 2% in 2015.”

Expectations for tighter monetary policy in the U.S. early next year strengthened the dollar, which trades inversely from gold, giving investors room to shrug off soft U.S. data, which still painted a picture of a recovering U.S. economy despite missing expectations.

Gold gains on Iraq violence, shrugs off bearish U.S. data – Sean Seshadri

Gold futures rose on Tuesday on fears the ongoing Iraqi insurgency will escalate, threaten U.S. recovery by dragging Washington deeper into the crisis and weaken the dollar, which trades inversely from the precious metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for August delivery traded at 1,321.60 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, up 0.24%, up from a session low of $1,314.60 and off a high of $1,326.60.

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The August contract settled up 0.14% at $1,318.40 on Monday.Futures were likely to find support at $1,310.40 a troy ounce, Monday’s low, and resistance at $1,331.40, the high from April 14.

Reports that Syrian warplanes hit targets in western Iraq earlier Tuesday in an effort to join Iran and support the embattled Baghdad government sent gold prices climbing due to safe-haven demand, as fears began to grow the conflict will increase in duration and complexity, especially if Washington gets more involved.

Gold often sees safe-harbor demand among investors worried over geopolitical issues, which eclipsed data seen as bullish for the dollar and bearish for gold.

New home sales rose to a six-year high, surging 18.6% in May to an annual rate of 504,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. May’s figure was the highest level since May 2008 and the largest monthly increase since January 1992.

Analysts were expecting new home sales to rise 1.6% to 440,000 units.Elsewhere, the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index jumped to 85.2 in June from 82.0 last month. It was the highest reading since January 2008.,-shrugs-off-bearish-u.s.-data-291276

Natural gas futures – weekly outlook: June 23 – 27 – Sean Seshadri

U.S. natural gas futures fell to a more than one-week low on Friday, as weather forecasts calling for a break in a heat wave pushed down prices.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in July hit a session low of $4.516 per million British thermal units, the weakest level since June 11, before settling at $4.531 by close of trade, down 1.16%, or 5.3 cents.

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Futures were likely to find support at $4.504 per million British thermal units, the low from June 11 and resistance at $4.700, the high from June 19.

Nymex natural gas prices lost 4.38%, or 20.8 cents on the week, the first weekly decline in four weeks.Updated weather-forecasting models called for a break in a heat wave across portions of the central U.S., which pressured prices lower. Still, the southern U.S. will remain warm, which prevented the commodity from falling too far.

Demand for natural gas tends to rise in the summer months as warmer temperatures increase the need for gas-fired electricity to power air conditioning.

Weekly supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration released Thursday showed that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 113 billion cubic feet, above forecasts for an increase of 110 billion cubic feet.—weekly-outlook:-june-23—27-290830

Dollar turns broadly higher, recovers from Fed – Sean Seshadri

The dollar turned broadly higher against the other major currencies on Friday, as it began to recover from the Federal Reserve latest policy meeting, although gains were expected to remain limited.

The dollar was higher against the euro, with EUR/USD down 0.21% to 1.3579.The dollar came under pressure after the Fed gave no indication of when interest rates could start to rise at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday. In addition, the Fed’s forecast of where interest rates might reach in the long term fell from 4% to 3.75%.

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The central bank cut its bond purchases by $10 billion a month, to $35 billion, saying there was “sufficient underlying strength” in the U.S. economy to continue tapering.

The greenback shrugged off data on Thursday showing that U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected last week, as well as a separate report showing that manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area expanded at the fastest rate in eight months in June.
In the euro zone, official data earlier showed that German producer price inflation fell 0.2% last month, compared to expectations for a 0.2% rise, after a 0.1% downtick in April.

The pound edged lower against the dollar, still hovering near five-year highs with GBP/USD slipping 0.12% to 1.7020.

Official data showed that U.K. public sector net borrowing rose to £11.48 billion in May, from a upwardly revised £9.00 billion the previous month. Analysts had expected public sector net borrowing to rise to £12.00 billion last month.,-recovers-from-fed-290753

NYMEX crude prices up in Asia with Iraq tension supporting market – Sean Seshadri

Crude oil prices rebounded in Asia on Thursday, taking note of continued strife in major oil producer Iraq and wider tension in the Middle East.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in August traded at $105.87 a barrel, up 0.26%, after hitting an overnight session low of $105.37 a barrel and a high of $106.45 a barrel.

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Brent oil on ICE Futures Europe rose 0.2% to $113.70 a barrel on Wednesday.The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that U.S. crude oil inventories decreased by 579,000 barrels in the week ended June 13, less than expectations for a decline of 650,000 barrels.

Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 386.3 million barrels as of last week.The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories increased by 785,000 barrels, disappointing forecasts for a decline of 113,000 barrels, while distillate stockpiles rose by 436,000 barrels, above expectations for an increase of 250,000 barrels.

Stockpiles are now more than 10 million barrels below the record reached in the week ended April 25. Supplies usually decline in the late spring as refineries complete seasonal maintenance and ramp up production ahead of the busy summer-driving season.

However, refineries aren’t running as much as expected. Refining capacity utilization fell 0.8 percentage point to 87.1% of capacity, its lowest since late March. Analysts had expected the operating rate to rise by 0.8 percentage point in the week.