Weekly News Roundup

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/26/12

While I spent much of last week in the U.K. for business—and enjoying a grilled ham and cheese with a fried egg—nothing beats catching up on all the financial headlines on a long flight across the pond.

In the U.S., economic confidence still resonates. A new Bloomberg survey finds U.S. economic optimism has hit an eight-year high. Nearly 35 percent of respondents in the monthly consumer expectations survey said the economy was improving—the largest jump since January 2004. These perspectives come on the heels of declining unemployment benefits, showing that the labor market is recovering. Unemployment claims dropped to 348,000, the lowest level since the financial crisis.

In the eurozone, the European Union proposed a heftier permanent bailout fund of 940 billion euros. While Greece had been in the news for much of its budget woes, it received a new commander for its monies when it named new finance minister Philippos Sachinidis. The week began with “Greek Deliverance Day” for bond payments, while the country also received the first 7.5 billion euros of aid from the new European Union/International Money Fund bailout. Next week is shaping up to be a busy one. Spain will present its full budget after ripping up its 2012 deficit target, and Italy will continue discussions about labor reforms, which will head to parliament.

Lastly, hedge fund investments posted an overall increase of 2.38 percent in February, according to the Barclay Hedge Fund Index.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/19/12

There’s nothing better than warm spring weather in Boston. It’s even better when the financial markets are performing just as upbeat as South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In the U.S., fiscal optimism resounded as economic confidence hit a four-year high, according to a recent Gallup poll. The good news stemmed mostly from last week’s U.S. jobless claims, which adjusted to about 351,000. Other indexes—and commentary—illustrated the nation’s strengthening economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for February and the latest Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board both posted their highest readings in a year. U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said the country’s economy continues to show signs of expansion.

In the eurozone, its current-account surplus surged in January to its highest level in almost five years. Greece’s Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the country was more than halfway on the road to economy recovery, optimistic about achieving positive growth rates within less than two years. Officials also formally stamped Greece’s second bailout, hoping the 130-billion-euro package will provide the country with enough aid until 2014-15.

For hedge funds, investments saw healthy inflows as they advanced 2.10 percent in March, according to GlobeOp Financial Services. As inflows increased, the number of hedge funds last year swelled to the highest level since 2007. The number of new hedge funds totaled 1,113 in 2011, according to fund tracker Hedge Fund Research. Also, the RBC Hedge 250 Index returned 1.25 percent for the month of February, bringing its year-to-date return to 2.96 percent.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/12/12

We certainly felt spring-like temperatures in Massachusetts last week, and the weather is only going to improve this week. Let’s hope the currency markets faired just as well as Boston’s March warm-up.

In the U.S., the economy added 227,000 net jobs in February, the third consecutive month of gains more than 200,000. It’s another sign of the country’s strengthening economic recovery, which many Americans say they’re starting to see. According to a new Associated Press survey, there is more optimism about U.S. jobs and the economy. Findings show that the economy is moving faster than economists predicted, with anticipated unemployment rates dropping to 7.4 percent (down from the earlier estimated 7.8 percent) by the end of 2013.

For Europe, developments in the eurozone continue to receive much of the headlines. Finance ministers will sign off Greece’s second bailout package after the country swapped privately bonds, which slashed more than $100 billion euros from its debt. The swap enabled eurozone officials to OK the 130-billion-euro package to finance Athens until 2014. Finance ministers will next turn their attention to Spain because the country missed its 2011 budget deficit target.

In alternative investments, more hedge funds managers are tapping exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Financial officials say one of the reasons for this trend is because ETFs allow hedge funds to protect their trades or preserve anonymity while investing. For hedge funds, investments are off to their best start since 2000, up 4.07 percent on the year after bouncing back from a depressed performance in 2011. In February, hedge funds rose 1.31 percent, according to the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Index.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/5/12

As winter finally greeted Massachusetts last week, I was able to jet down to Florida this past weekend for some warmth, but that didn’t stop me from keeping up on the latest financial headlines.

In the U.S., some more good news about jobs as claims for jobless benefits dropped to a four-year low, reaching 351,000. While claims decreased, the economy increased, growing at a 3-percent annual rate in the October-December 2011 period—the fastest pace since spring 2010. Economists say factors such as busier factories, higher retail sales, more jobs and growth in home sales will continue to help fuel more economic growth. People’s perceptions of the economy keep increasing as 40 percent of Americans believe the U.S. economy is growing—up 27 percent from April 2011 and 3 percent in 2008.

In Europe, the eurozone crisis will not be a big deal for the markets within the next few months, according to an official from Barclays Capital. Larry Kantor, managing director and head of research, said the European Central Bank has helped enough to lessen the financial crisis. Greece awaited a verdict about its bailout after completing 38 mandatory measures for amendments to its economy. On March 1, the country’s parliament passed changes to its health sector, allowing longer opening hours for pharmacies and limitations on drug spending. For Europe’s overall economy, confidence rose for a second consecutive month in February. The European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator increased by a point in the eurozone to 94.4. The rise piggybacked on January’s hike, which was the first improvement in sentiment since March 2011.

In alternative investments, hedge funds are expected to rise 12 percent to a record $2.26 trillion this year, according to Deutsche Bank’s latest Alternative Investment Survey. Hedge funds finished January up 2.34 percent, according to the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Hedge Fund Index, with nine of 10 strategies in positive territory.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 2/27/12

As Hollywood celebrated the Academy Awards Feb. 26, the world watched “The Artist” snag five trophies and Meryl Streep receive her third Oscar win. On the financial stage, eyes cast on the German parliament, Greek finances and U.S. economy confidence.

After agreeing on a new rescue package for Greece Feb. 20, the eurozone stepped back into the spotlight as German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a parliamentary about Greek aid from the Bundestag—the lower house of the German parliament. The vote favored the 130 billion-euro package to help Greece. She cautioned her fellow lawmakers that pushing Greece out of the euro would result in failures for the European Union and global economy.

Merkel also spoke about the European Stability Mechanism, saying Germany was willing to expedite payments to the ESM—the eurozone’s primary bailout fund—if other European members followed. She said Germany was willing to pay 11 billion euro to the ESM to accelerate funding. Regardless of adding new money to the fund, some German lawmakers believed that a third Greek rescue package could arise because they felt that even new funds would not right Greece’s finances. Aside from discussions about Greece, Germany saw positive news in its IFO (the country’s No. 1 think tank), predicting an increased business climate. The nation’s rating jumped to 109.6 points, better than the expected 108.7. A higher IFO showed dwindling signs of a German recession.

In the U.S., economists continue to see financial optimism. As many Americans ushered in the weekend, the Standard & Poor’s 500-share index finished Feb. 24 at its highest point since 2008. The S&P closed at about 1,365 points—the highest mark since June 2008 before the worst of the financial crisis. The good news continued with signs of a growing economy. The National Association for Business Economics said the U.S. economy will rise 2.4 percent in 2012. The NABE February survey also showed expectations of an average unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, with the economy adding about 170,000 jobs a month in 2012.

For hedge funds in 2012, investors forecast $250 billion in new assets, with net inflows of as much as $140 million and the rest coming from investment returns. According to the Morningstar MSCI Composite Hedge Fund Index, hedge fund performance in January jumped 1.9 percent—the largest monthly gain since December 2010.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 2/21/12

While many Americans enjoyed a restful holiday weekend, financial officials in Greece busily discussed and ultimately approved the nation’s new rescue plan.

Eurozone finance leaders agreed to the $172.1 billion rescue deal for Greece—a plan that would have the country’s private creditors take larger losses than previously agreed. The package could help Greece reduce its government debt from about 160 percent to about 120 percent by 2020. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos called the agreement “historic,” giving his country a new economic lifeline.

Here in the U.S., economic confidence resounded. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, almost half of all Americans expect the economy to be better by 2013. Also, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll, as many as 34 percent of Americans say the economy is getting better—up from 28 percent who thought so a month ago. One of the factors for an improved economy is jobs. Jobless claims fell to a new low, now at 348,000, and retail sales grew by 0.4 percent. In the institutional arena, hedge funds, commodity trading advisors and private equity funds are expected to increase allocations in 2012, according to an AlphaMetrix survey.

While we were reading the world’s biggest financial headlines, Currensee itself received some ink. FINalternatives profiled the Trade Leaders Investment Program, speaking with our CEO Dave Lemont. The publication said Currensee is aiming to “revolutionize money-under-management CTA world.”

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 2/13/12

While many of us in the U.S. watched the Grammy Awards this past weekend, Greece made significant next steps in its debt talks and Americans continued to see economic confidence after completing the first month of 2012.

After Greece passed its austerity plan, which sparked strings of riots, the nation’s leaders rushed to identify about 3.25 million euros in budget cuts because they omitted longer-term issues of debt sustainability and growth. On Feb. 12, the country passed its rescue package, which included a 22-percent cut in benchmark wages and 150,000 government layoffs by 2015. Arriving at that agreement—via a vote of 199 in favor and 74 opposed (and 27 absentations or blank ballots)—came after days of intense debates. As officials approved economic reforms in Greece, the U.K. city of Bristol decided to introduce its own currency. Called the Bristol Pound, officials designed the monetary unit to “support independent businesses in and around Bristol, retaining and multiplying the benefit of every pound spent for ordinary people and businesses.” Also in Britain, the British Monetary Policy Committee increased the Asset Purchase Facility by an additional 50 billion pounds, as expected.

In the U.S., economic optimism prevailed. The U.S. federal and state authorities agreed to a $26 billion settlement with five major banks, and The Corporate Executive Board’s Business Barometer report found consumer spending expected to rise. A recent Gallup chart showed that Americans have become less and less worried about the economy for five full months. The year 2012 saw an upbeat start, according to a report by IHS Global Insight. January saw the lowest level of jobless claims (325,000), and the fourth quarter of 2011 posted a nearly 3-percent growth—the strongest quarter of 2011. In the hedge fund world, the investment fund in January added 2.6 percent, according to the HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 2/06/12

Here in New England we’re trying to gracefully recover from our loss in this weekend’s Super Bowl to the New York Giants. While Madonna and Kelly Clarkson rocked Indianapolis at the big game, the currency markets continued to show signs of optimism in the U.S. and reform in Europe.

In the U.S., the jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent, a three-year low. Employers added 243,000 jobs in January, the second straight month of better-than-expect gains. The falling unemployment rate sparked signs of optimism that the economy continues improving.

Across the Atlantic, the European debt crisis is still center stage as the deadline for agreement on Greece’s second bailout looms, fuelling renewed euro zone anxiety. Earlier last week, Greece’s military received some positive news that it ranked in the top 10 of the world. The country ranks No. 9 out of 149 in the Global Militarization Index, according to Bonn International Center for Conversion. In Belgium, the nation slipped into recession after its economy fell on a quarterly basis for the second straight quarter in the last three months of 2011. Parliament is expected to ratify the 2012 budget bill.

While hedge funds saw a gloomy 2011, so far they have seen a positive 2012. Hedge funds added 1.34 percent to start the year, according to the Credit Suisse Index. The retail foreign exchange market saw a quiet end to 2011, unlike the beginning of the previous year when Japan’s Tsunami rattled the markets. As a result, the most volatility during 20120 resulted in Q1 because of the tsunami and Q3 because of the European debt crisis.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

­­Our Two Cents – Week of 1/30/12

As January flips to February this week, U.S. economic optimism continues prevailing, while Europe strides toward economic reform.

Focusing on the economy, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, outlining a path to constructing “an economy built to last.” On the heels of the president’s speech, The Wall Street Journal and NBC released a poll showing that Americans view the economy a bit brighter. According to results, 37 percent of respondents said the economy will get better in the next 12 months. One sign of economic restoration is consumer confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 75 from 69.9 at the end of December—the highest level in almost a year. Experts said an improving jobs market and higher stock prices helped fuel the increase. Additionally, about two-thirds of economists who participated in the National Association for Business Economic survey believe the nation’s gross domestic product will bump to a rate of more than 2 percent. The week ended with the economy growing at an annual pace of nearly 3 percent in Q4 of 2011.

While the U.S. received economic assurance, Europe remained focus on its fiscal matters. At the Jan. 30 summit, European Union leaders agreed to a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone. Leaders will sign a treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), “a 500-billion-euro permanent bailout fund that is due to become operational in July, a year earlier than first planned.” Summit participants also discussed ways to create more job opportunities and financial growth. Aside from the treaty, Spain still faces recession as tourism is expected to remain low in the winter. Factors such as austerity measures and higher taxes also might bruise the country.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.

Our Two Cents – Week of 1/23/12

There’s nothing better than kicking off the week on some high notes—especially coming off last night’s victory from the New England Patriots, sending them to the Super Bowl.

In the U.S., optimism remained the key theme last week. Jobless claims dropped 50,000 to 325,000—down from 402,000 last week—marking the lowest level since April 2008 and the biggest drop since September 2005. Experts said the sharp decrease illustrated signs of an upward-ticking economy. According to new survey results, 40 percent of wealthy Americans have optimistic thoughts about the U.S. economy in 2012, the highest level of optimism in six months. The findings came from the December 2011 Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer, which examines lifestyles, spending patterns and media habits of wealthy Americans (those whose household income is $100,000 or more). While wealthy Americans signaled their optimism for 2012, the hedge fund industry also displayed early signs of a good year. In terms of inflows, more than half of investors planned to boost their hedge fund investments this year, according to a Barclays survey. In the Forex world, U.S. client profitability has increased on average 6.4 percent in Q4 of 2011.

Signs of economic confidence even transcended the Atlantic to Europe. Spain enjoyed a successful auction of benchmark 10-year bonds that investors gobbled up. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti said Germany—in its own self-interest—must assist Italy and other embattled euro zone nations to help lower borrowing costs. Monti heralded Germany’s

“culture of stability” as “a precious German product [that] has been marvelously exported.” In Greece, officials and private creditors continued to devise solutions for its debt, nearing agreements to write down 50 percent of the face value of the country’s debt by exchanging existing bonds for newer ones with longer maturities and lower interest rates. Officials are expected to meet Jan. 23 to further discuss and resolve Greece’s debt.

 

 

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Be sure to read the full risk disclosure before trading Forex. Please note that Forex trading involves significant risk of loss. It is not suitable for all investors and you should make sure you understand the risks involved before trading. Performance, strategies and charts shown are not necessarily predictive of any particular result. And, as always, past performance is no indication of future results. Investor returns may vary from Trade Leader returns based on slippage, fees, broker spreads, volatility or other market conditions.