Iran Foreign Ministry Claims Nuclear Scientist Was Executed By CIA, As Nigeria Strike Talks CollapseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/14/2012 23:15 -0400
While on one hand we get news from Nigeria that the government and the labor unions have failed to end a labor strike, raising the prospect of a halt of all production in the country which produces 2.4 million barrels of oil per day or roughly the same as Iran exports, we now find out that the US attempt at de-escalating tensions with Iran (following Thursday's news of an extension in the oil embargo deadline by 6 months - one would almost think Obama realized $5.00 gas may be an issue with the election looming) may have failed massively, and it is now Iran's attempt to score political brownie points knowing well it has all the advantage. As EA WorldView reports, instead of backing away from last week's sensitive issue of the assasination of a nuclear scientist, Iran has ripped the scab right off the wound and its foreign ministry has boldly proclaimed that it has "reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA. The documents clearly show that this terrorist act was carried out with the direct involvement of CIA-linked agents." So the ball is now squarely back in America's court, and any further attempts at appeasement, such as the embargo extension was perceived as being, will merely serve to make US foreign policy appear even more toothless. Which Hillary will hardly stomach. So we may well be back at square one (only this time with two aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea instead of just one).
Pres. Barack Obama has launched new international diplomatic poker with “a trailing hand”. It is impossible to exaggerate the forces at play, economic as well as political, foreign and domestic, and their interplay.
Are countries which want to trade in their own currencies or to own their own central banks getting spanked ?
European Indices are trading up at the midpoint of the session following strong performance from financials, however, Italian bond auction results dampened this effect after failing to replicate the success of the Spanish bond auction yesterday with relatively lacklustre demand. There has been market talk that this lull in demand for Italian bonds is due to technical error preventing some participants from bidding in the auction, but this still remains unconfirmed. Heading into the North American open, fixed income futures are still trading higher on the day having seen the Bund touch on a fresh session high and with peripheral 10-year government bond yield spreads widening ahead of the treasury pit open. Markets now anticipate the release of US trade balance figures and The University of Michigan confidence report.
- China’s Forex Reserves Drop for First Quarter Since 1998 (Bloomberg) - explains the sell off in USTs in the Custody Account
- Greek Euro Exit Weighed By German Lawmakers, Seen as Manageable (Bloomberg)
- Greek bondholders say time running out (FT)
- Housing policy to continue (China Daily)
- Switzerland’s Central Bank Returns to Profit (Reuters)
- US sanctions Chinese oil trader (FT)
- Obama Starts Clock for Congress to Vote on Raising Federal Debt Ceiling (Bloomberg)
- Turkey defiant on Iran sanctions (FT)
- ECB’s Draghi Says Weapons Working in Debt Crisis (Bloomberg)
- Greece to pass law that could force creditors in bond swap (Reuters)
Thanks to disappointing macro data early on and better-than-expected European auctions (and ECB not cutting), the EUR went bid early on, accelerate after the Europe close, and stayed that way for most of the day (EURUSD squeeze? or ES-EUR convergence?) ending a one-week highs. Credit markets gapped tighter around their open (thanks to Europe's early strength) but leaked back as the morning wore on. Stocks underperformed credit overall as IG and HY credit rallied into the European close and held gains - while HYG (the high yield bond ETF) significantly underperformed on the day (compressing its NAV premium further despite a modest late day pullback) which should be mildly concerning for bulls (given the size of flows and momentum behind it recently). ES (the e-mini S&P futures contract) converged with VWAP and CONTEXT around lunch then pulled higher into the close managing to tag the day-session open but broad risk-drivers did not participate so much (and we saw higher average trade size volume come in covering at the close). Oil is down 2.6% on the week (sub $99) seeing its biggest 2-day drop in a month and while Gold and Silver leaked lower from midday highs, Copper managed to hold onto its gains (now up over 6% on the week). Volume ended about average for the year in NYSE stocks and ES (though still well down from December).
UPDATE: Oil Sub $100.
And so the escalation ends, if only for the time being, as Iran chalks a (Pyrrhic?) victory.
- EU IRAN OIL EMBARGO SAID TO BE LIKELY DELAYED BY SIX MONTHS
Why? Because the world slowly realized that the potential surge in oil prices would tip a world already on the verge of a recession even deeper into economic contraction. Not rocket science, but certainly something the US president apparently has been unable to comprehend, especially if hoping that he would merely transfer exports from Iran to his close ally Saudi Arabia which would cement its European market monopoly even further. Or, perhaps, someone just explained to Obama that Embargo in January + QE3 in March = No Reelection...
In other news, crude is now dumping.
Imagine pensions not paying retiree funds, insurers not paying claims, and banks collapsing everywhere. Sounds like fun? I will be discussing this live on RT's Capital Account with the lusciously locquacious Lauryn Lyster at 4:30pm.
Demand in Asia continues to be strong. China remains the world’s largest producer of mined gold. Premiums for gold bullion bars in Asia are rising again and are at their highest since October in Hong Kong and Singapore. Premiums are at $2.15/oz in Hong Kong and $1.65/oz in Singapore. Bullion’s strength was also attributed to the euro’s 16 month low, with Fitch warning the ECB to purchase assets to try to stabilize the euro. Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,650.34 an ounce at 1009 GMT, having earlier touched a one-month high at $1,652.30. U.S. gold futures for February delivery were up $12.60 an ounce at $1,652.20. A stronger rupee has boosted the purchasing power of gold bullion consumers in India. This is in the run up for the Indian Wedding Season which resumes January 15th and continues until April, leaving a few weeks break for a period that is considered bad luck for nuptials. Chinese demand will weaken next week as many factories and businesses are set to close for the Lunar New Year’s celebrations.
- Hedge Funds Try to Profit From Greece as Banks Face Losses (Bloomberg)
- Spain Doubles Target in Debt Auction, Yields Down (Reuters)
- Italy 1-Year Debt Costs More Than Halve at Auction (Reuters)
- Obama to Propose Tax Breaks to Get Jobs (WSJ)
- GOP Seeks to Pass Keystone Pipeline Without Obama (Reuters)
- Debt Downgrades to Rise ‘Substantially’ in 2012, Moody’s Says (Bloomberg)
- Petroplus wins last-minute reprieve (FT)
- Geithner gets China snub on Iranian oil as Japan plans cut (Bloomberg)
- Fed officials split over easing as they prepare interest rate forecasts (Bloomberg)
- Draft eurozone treaty pleases UK (FT)
- Premier Wen looks at the big picture (China Daily)
- US Foreclosure Filings Hit 4-Year Low in 2011 (Reuters)
Quick, what country is the economic engine that will power world growth? If you answered "China," you're far from alone. But there's another country that deserves as much attention and better yet, is much friendlier to investment: India, home to 1.2 billion people. To electrify all those houses, power the industries that keep all those people employed, and fuel the vehicles that more and more Indians own, India's energy needs are shooting skyward. First question to consider: what kind of energy does India need? Just about every kind, really. India encompasses significant reserves of coal, oil, and gas, but each year it has to import more and more to meet its rapidly rising demand. Domestic production increases have been hampered by land disputes, interminably slow permitting, and government-regulated pricing mechanisms that discourage development. That's got to change if India wants to keep up, and its government knows it. Domestic supplies always come with better reliability, better prices, and other benefits that we can shorten into two words: energy security. So India is reaching out to foreign oil majors, quietly setting up deals to exchange stakes in giant, underexplored oil and gas fields for the technical expertise it needs to best develop these resources. These partnerships are working into place slowly. However, they show Delhi is serious about the welcome mat it rolled out in 2000, when it passed a policy that allows foreign companies to own 100% of any oil and gas assets they may want to acquire for exploration and development. And what we really like is that explorers are welcome in a democratic and reasonably friendly country that harbors none of the risk of asset nationalization that clings to other underexplored locales, like Venezuela.
In each of the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, significant worries emerged that Western nations might attack Iran. Here again in 2012, similar concerns are once again at the surface. Why revisit this topic again? Simply because if actions against Iran trigger a shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world's daily sea-borne oil passes, oil prices will spike, the world's teetering economy will slump, and the arrival of the next financial emergency will be hastened. Even if the strait remains open but Iran is blocked from being an oil exporter for a period of time, it bears mentioning that Iran is the third largest exporter of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Once again, I am deeply confused as to the timing of the perception of an Iranian threat, right now at this critical moment of economic weakness. The very last thing the world economies need is a vastly increased price for oil, which is precisely what a war with Iran will deliver. Let me back up. The US has already committed acts of war against Iran, though no formal declaration of war has yet been made. At least if Iran had violated US airspace with stealth drones and then signed into law the equivalent of the recent US bill that will freeze any and all financial institutions that deal with Iran out of US financial markets, we could be quite confident that these would be perceived as acts of war against the US by Iran. And rightly so.
Iran Interest Rates Raised To 20% To Fight Hyperinflation; Iran Nuclear Scientist Killed In Street Bomb ExplosionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/11/2012 09:23 -0400
Yesterday we reported how as a result of a financial embargo enacted on by the US on New Year's Day, Iran's economy had promptly entered freefall mode and is now experiencing hyperinflation as the currency implodes. Today EA WorldNews gives us the response, which confirms that indeed the economy is in terminal shape following an interest rate hike to 20%. From the Source: "State news agency IRNA has no news on the Iranian currency this morning, but it does feature an interview with an official, noting the rise in interest rates to 20%. The effort is to reduce the flow of cash in the economy, but the official says it will increase capital investment by banks in an "impressive market"." As noted before, every incremental creep worse in the status quo merely makes the probability of escalation higher due to a lower opportunity cost of "irrationality" although we hope we are wrong. And in other unreported so far news, EA also informs us that in a street bomb explosion in Tehran earlier, one Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy head of procurement at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was killed. Are predator drones now patrolling over the Iran capital? Who knows, but Iran is already spinning the news.