Sunday, June 10, 2012

Euro zone agrees to lend Spain up to €100b

BRUSSELS, June 10 — Euro zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros (RM398.25 billion) to shore up its teetering banks and Madrid said it would specify precisely how much it needs once independent audits report in just over a week.
After a 2-1/2-hour conference call of the 17 finance ministers, which several sources described as heated, the Eurogroup and Madrid said the amount of the bailout would be sufficiently large to banish any doubts.
"The loan amount must cover estimated capital requirements with an additional safety margin, estimated as summing up to 100 billion euros in total," a Eurogroup statement said.
Spain said it wanted aid for its banks but would not specify the precise amount until two independent consultancies - Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger - deliver their assessment of the banking sector's capital needs some time before June 21.
"The Spanish government declares its intention to request European financing for the recapitalisation of the Spanish banks that need it," Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told a news conference in Madrid.
He said the amounts needed would be manageable, and that the funds requested would amply cover any needs.
A bailout for Spain's banks, beset by bad debts since a property bubble burst, would make it the fourth country to seek assistance since Europe's debt crisis began.
With the rescue of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and now Spain, the EU and IMF have now committed around 500 billion euros to finance European bailouts.
Washington, which is worried the euro zone crisis could drag the U.S. economy down in an election year, welcomed the announcement.
"These are important for the health of Spain's economy and as concrete steps on the path to financial union, which is vital to the resilience of the euro area," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.
Heated debate
Officials said there had been a heated debate over the International Monetary Fund's role in Spain's bank rescue, which Madrid wanted kept to a minimum. It will not provide any of the money.
In the end it was agreed that the IMF would help monitor reforms in Spain's banking sector, while EU institutions would ensure Spain stuck to its broader economic commitments.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the euro zone's plan was consistent with the IMF's estimate of the capital needs of Spain's banks and should provide "assurance that the financing needs of Spain's banking system will be fully met."
Sources involved in the talks said there had also been pressure applied on Madrid to make a precise request right away, but Spain had resisted. Read more

Thursday, June 7, 2012

China Makes Surprise 0.25% Interest Rate Cut

China's central bank cut benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points on Thursday in a surprise move to shore up slackening economic growth, its first rate cut since the depths of the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Altrendo Images | Getty Images

The new rate of 6.31 percent is effective from June 8, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a brief statement on its website. The PBOC also cut deposit rates by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent.
In the wake of the announcement, U.S. stock futures surged.
"China's move should help support the stocks rally that we have seen in the market over the past days," said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown in London.
The consensus view of economists had been that the PBOC would refrain from an outright cut to interest rates in 2012 and instead cut the required reserve ratio (RRR) of the country's banks to boost credit creation and deliver money supply growth in line with the 14 percent official target.
"This is very positive for risk appetite and is indicative PBOC are there to support the Chinese economy. If anything I am surprised the moves so far look quite muted,'' said Michael Sneyd, a currency strategist at BNP Paribas.
"We would expect to see more investors put on risk positions,'' he said. Read more

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

US Already in 'Recession,' Extend Tax Cuts: Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton told CNBC Tuesday that the US economy already is in a recession and urged Congress to extend all the tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year.
Bill Clinton
Getty Images

In a taped interview aired on "Closing Bell," the still-popular 42nd president called the current economic conditions a "recession"[cnbc explains] and said overzealous Republican plans to cut the deficit threaten to plunge the country further into the debt abyss. Clinton's office released a statementafter the interview.
"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election," Clinton said.
"They will probably have to put everything off until early next year," he added. "That's probably the best thing to do right now. But the Republicans don't want to do that unless he agrees to extend the tax cuts permanently, including for upper income people, and I don't think the president should do that."
However, Clinton did say that Congress would be best off agreeing, at least for the time being, to extend all the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, including the so-called Bush tax cuts named after Clinton's successor, George W. Bush.
Those across-the-board cuts have been criticized by Democrats who say they were skewed toward upper-income earners. Read more

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Get ready for super-fast trading on Bursa, says US author

Get ready for super-fast trading on Bursa, says US author

April 05, 2012

High-frequency traders work at an office in Red Bank, New Jersey November 17, 2009. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Trading of equities on Bursa will be a new ballgame once computer-driven ultra-high frequency trading is introduced, said Edgar Perez, author and former Citigroup vice president.

High-speed trading already makes up six per cent of trades on the Bursa derivatives market and the stock exchange operator is reported to be gearing up for the introduction of ultra-fast trading of equities.

High-frequency trading or HFT uses technology-enabled speed in the order of milliseconds or microseconds to buy shares and then sell them at a profit almost immediately with an emphasis on low margins but high frequency.

It now makes up an estimated 50-60 per cent of trades in US and Europe and 30-40 per cent on Asian markets.

Perez, the author of the book “The Speed Traders, An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World”, said that HFT involves dealing with very liquid instruments with very small margins to make money.

“As a high frequency trader, you are not interested in holding instruments for any longer than it is required by the strategy, and almost never overnight, as that would expose to additional risks,” the New York-based author said in an email interview with The Malaysian Insider. “It’s been said that high frequency traders are in the moving business and not in the storage business.”

Perez, who is conducting a workshop on HFT in Kuala Lumpur on April 12, also said that in order to minimise the latency of the trading systems, co-location is an inherent part of HFT.

“As speed traders try to reduce any latency, they will want to trade from computers hosted on the exchanges themselves,” he said.

While such fast trading might not seem to appeal to long-term investors who focus on company fundamentals, Perez said that those with a long investment horizon are adapting some of the techniques HF traders have pioneered.

“For instance, institutional investors leverage dark pools, trading venues that allow them to trade among themselves, before exposing their orders to the market in general,” he said.

“Along the same lines, long-term investors have become more educated about execution prices, therefore, challenging their brokers to implement technology that leverage algorithmic trading.” Read more

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bull Market to Continue Rest of Year: Byron Wien

he bull market in stocks will continue the rest of the year despite the outsized gains already in the first quarter as more equity “disbelievers” are converted, the economy improves and more companies follow Apple’s lead in paying a dividend, well-known Wall Street strategist Byron Wien says.

“I actually thought the S&P 500 [.SPX 1413.38 -5.66 (-0.4%) ] could reach 1500 based on the generally achieved (but not last year) multiple of 15 times and operating earnings of $100,” wrote Blackstone’s Wien in a strategy note to clients Tuesday, which reviewed his classic “Ten Surprises” outlook for the year. “Estimates have been trimmed somewhat, but, at this point, I still think 1500 is likely.”

“Over the past three months the pessimistic mood has changed to optimism,” continues Wien, formerly the long-time chief investment strategist at Morgan Stanley. “Ordinarily, optimistic sentiment readings presage a market correction, but there are so many investors looking for an opportunity to increase their exposure that even a minor downdraft gets cut short by a flood of buyers. This could continue for a while.”

S&P 500 Index
1413.38 -5.66 (-0.4%%)

So far this year, the S&P 500 is up 12 percent to above 1400, Wien’s original 2012 forecast for the U.S. benchmark. Federal Reserve officials made note Tuesday of the strengthening economy in minutes releasedfrom the central bank’s March meeting. Read more

Friday, March 30, 2012

Euro Zone Boosts Bailout Firewall to $1.06 Trillion

he euro zone raised the combined lending ceiling for their two bailout funds to 700 billion euros on Friday from 500 billion, euro zone finance ministers said in a statement.

ECB Interest Rate Decision
Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Euro sign sculpture stands in front of the European Central Bank's (ECB) headquarters.

The 700 billion will come from 500 billion euros of the permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, and the 200 billion euros committed under existing bailout programs for Greece, Ireland and Portugal by the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) fund.

"The current overall ceiling for ESM/EFSF[cnbc explains] lending ... will be raised to 700 billion euros," said the statement, distributed after talks of finance ministers in Copenhagen.

"All together, the euro area is mobilizing an overall firewall of approximately 800 billion euros, more than 1 trillion dollars," the statement said.

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said earlier the 17-nation currency area would combine two rescue funds for a year to make more money available in case of emergency. She put the total figure at some 800 billion euros, but that appeared to include money already spent to conjure up a more impressive headline number for investors. Read more

Monday, February 27, 2012

China To Be Largest Economy Before 2030: World Bank

China must relax its grip on industry and move towards a free-market economy, the World Bank said on Monday in a report that forecast the country would become the world's largest economy before 2030.


Judging China to be near an inflection point in its economic growth, the World Bank called on Beijing and its incoming leaders to overhaul the structure of the world's No. 2 economy to keep income and productivity rising in years ahead.

"As China's leaders know, the country's current growth model is unsustainable," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in Beijing at the launch of the "China 2030 Report".

"This is not the time just for muddling through. It's time to get ahead of events and to adapt to major changes in the world and national economies."

An executive summary of the 400-plus page report, made public by Zoellick, had six broad recommendations for Beijing: strengthen a market-based economy, foster innovation, go "green", provide social security for all, improve the fiscal system and seek mutually beneficial relations with the world.

Among other specific recommendations, it urged Beijing to commercialize banks and allow interest rates to be set by the financial market, develop its private sector, protect farmers' rights and cut local governments' dependence on land revenues.

The outcome of these changes would produce a China that is more socially stable and equal in wealth distribution, relies less on exports and investment for economic growth, and more on domestic consumption that can be sustained, the Bank said.

"The reforms that launched China on its current growth trajectory were inspired by Deng Xiaoping who played an important role in building consensus for a fundamental shift in the country's strategy," the report said.

"China has reached another turning point in its development path when a second strategic, and no less fundamental, shift is called for."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

G20 Inches Toward $2 Trillion in Rescue Funds for Europe

Germany is easing its opposition to a bigger European bailout fund, officials said, smoothing the way for the world's leading economies to secure nearly $2 trillion in firepower to prevent further fallout from the euro-zone's sovereign debt crisis.

Getty Images

Finance leaders from the Group of 20, meeting in Mexico City this weekend, are trying to build up massive international resources by the end of April to convince financial markets they can prevent the euro-zone's deep problems from inflicting more damage on a still-fragile world recovery.

It would mark their boldest efforts since 2008 when the G20 mustered $1 trillion to rescue the world economy from the credit crisis, which blew up in the United States and caused the worst recession since the 1930s.

They are demanding that Europe build up its war chest first and then other G20 countries would contribute extra money to the International Monetary Fund.

As Europe's richest economy, Germany's support for a larger European fund is critical.

A senior G20 official said Berlin was prepared to discuss boosting the firewall in March, but it saw no reason to increase the bailout fund for now because the situation in financial markets has been improving.

The plan is to merge Europe's temporary and permanent bailout funds, the European Financial Stability Fund and the European Stability Mechanism , to create one 750 billion-euro ($1 trillion) fund. Increased IMF [cnbc explains]resources would back that up.

"Everyone in the euro zone and even in European Union is reasonably happy with combining the ESM and the EFSF, even Germany, but it is too early to say if this will be decided at the EU summit at the beginning of March," said Margrethe Vestager, economy minister of current EU president Denmark.

Merging the funds would mark a softening of Berlin's stance. It has warned that a bigger fund would remove pressure on deeply indebted countries to enact the tough fiscal measures and economic reforms needed to bring their budgets under control.

G20 finance chiefs are piling the pressure on Germany as they try to line up the roughly $2 trillion in resources by the time they next meet in April and draw a line under the two-year-old euro-zone crisis. Read more