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Reuters Infos

Pacific trade talks conclude without deal, vow to keep working

August 01, 2015 - reuters.com

LAHAINA, Hawaii, July 31 (Reuters) - Trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations failed to reach a deal on Friday after talks in Maui on the Trans-Pacific Partnership but vowed to keep working. "Ministers and negotiators leave Hawaii committed to build on the momentum of this meeting by staying in close contact as negotiators continue their intensive engagement to find common ground," they said in a statement. "In this last stage of negotiations, we are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach and will support jobs and economic growth." (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Ken Wills) ((krista.hughes@thomsonreuters.com; +1 202 669 0418; Reuters Messaging: krista.hughes.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: TRADE TPP/CONCLUSION

UPDATE 1-Mexico's finmin says peso's recovery due to currency intervention

August 01, 2015 - reuters.com

(Adds quote, currency commission details, and peso's Friday close) MEXICO CITY, July 31 (Reuters) - The Mexican peso recovered on Friday in response to the government's recent reinforcement of its currency intervention program, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said in a radio interview. Videgaray added that statements from the governor of the country's central bank earlier in the day also helped bolster the local currency. The peso MXN= strengthened nearly 1 percent on Friday to 16.1135 per dollar, just one day after sinking to a historic low of 16.49 per greenback. Mexico's currency commission, run jointly by the finance ministry and the central bank, significantly boosted daily dollar auctions on Thursday in an effort to protect the local currency. ID:nL1N10A2SQ Specifically, the commission raised daily dollar auctions to $200 million from $52 million to support the peso, while also lowering the threshold of peso losses that can trigger the sale of an additional $200 million per day. The peso's rally on Friday, its largest daily gain in more than 11 weeks, "has to do with the measures the currency commission has taken... and secondly, I also think the market has begun to understand the position of the Banco de Mexico," said Videgaray. Mexico's Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens said earlier on Friday that the bank could raise interest rates at any time to defend the peso, independently of what the U.S. Federal Reserve does. ID:nL1N10B11I The peso has fallen by about 20 percent against the dollar since last July, and several record lows this month alone reawakened memories of past devaluations that caused havoc to the country's economy. (Reporting by Jean Luis Arce; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Ken Wills) ((david.aliregarcia@thomsonreuters.com; +52 55 5282 7151; Reuters Messaging: david.aliregarcia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MEXICO PESO/

Former CEO of collapsed Mt.Gox bitcoin exchange arrested in Japan: reports

August 01, 2015 - reuters.com

TOKYO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Mark Karpeles, the former head of defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, was arrested on Saturday in connection with the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency, Japanese media reports said. The French-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of falsifying data on the outstanding balance of the exchange, at one point the world's largest hub for trading the digital currency, they added. Police were unable to immediately confirm the reports. When it filed for bankruptcy in February 2014, Mt. Gox said 750,000 customer bitcoins and another 100,000 belonging to the exchange were stolen due to a software security flaw. The lost funds represented the equivalent of $480 million at the time of the bankruptcy filing. Mt. Gox also said more than $27 million was missing from its Japanese bank accounts. Karpeles, who had blamed hackers for the loss, later said he had recovered 200,000 of the lost bitcoins. Known as a self-proclaimed geek who said he was uncomfortable in his native France and hadn't been back in years, Karpeles became interested in bitcoin when a customer of his web-hosting services wanted to pay in the virtual currency. Mt. Gox subsequently shot from obscurity to dominate global trade in bitcoin, but as early as 2012 employees at the Tokyo-based exchange challenged Karpeles on issues such as whether client money was being used to cover costs. (Reporting by Elaine Lies) ((elaine.lies@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: elaine.lies@thomsonreuters.com)) Keywords: TECH BITCOIN/MTGOX

Einhorn's Greenlight Capital hedge fund slumps 6.1 pct in July

August 01, 2015 - reuters.com

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss BOSTON, July 31 (Reuters) - Hedge fund mogul David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital slumped 6.1 percent in July and is now down 9 percent for the year after gold, one of the fund's top holdings, tumbled to five-year lows last week. Greenlight notified clients of its returns late on Friday, according to one source who shared the numbers with Reuters. Einhorn, who owns physical gold and called it one of his biggest bets in this month's investor letter, is now one of the first prominent fund managers to show just how deeply this month's gold rout has weighed on performance. Greenlight, which invests roughly $11 billion, did not provide details about returns on Friday and a spokesman declined to comment. But gold was not the only bet that hurt the long-admired investor. A 23 percent drop in Micron Technology Inc MU.O , another one of Greenlight's top long positions, also hurt as did a 4 percent drop in Apple Inc's AAPL.O stock price, Greenlight's biggest bet. On Friday, gold XAU= GCQ5 was at $1,094.91 an ounce, down 16 percent since the middle of January and off from a record peak of $1,900 hit four years ago. Unlike mutual funds, hedge funds are not required to disclose their monthly returns and many managers do not disclose them, so any performance numbers, especially from big name managers, are scrutinized closely for industry trends. The broader stock market Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1.28 percent in July. Meanwhile Daniel Loeb's $17.5 billion Third Point fared much better this month, posting a 1 percent gain its main fund, extending the year-to-date gains to 6.8 percent, an investor in the fund said. Traditionally Einhorn and Loeb are among the first managers to inform clients of their returns every month. Other managers may take several days to finalize their numbers. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Lisa Shumaker) ((svea.herbst@thomsonreuters.com; +617 856 4331; Reuters Messaging: svea.herbst.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: HEDGEFUND EINHORN/RETURNS

Mexico's finmin says peso's recovery due to currency intervention

August 01, 2015 - reuters.com

MEXICO CITY, July 31 (Reuters) - The Mexican peso recovered on Friday in response to the government's recent currency intervention program, said Finance Minister Luis Videgaray. Mexico's currency commission, run jointly by the finance ministry and the central bank, significantly boosted daily dollar auctions on Thursday in an effort to protect the local currency. ID:nL1N10A2SQ The peso MXN= has fallen by about 20 percent against the dollar since last July, and several record lows this month alone reawakened memories of past devaluations that caused havoc to the country's economy. (Reporting by Jean Luis Arce; Editing by Ken Wills) ((david.aliregarcia@thomsonreuters.com; +52 55 5282 7151; Reuters Messaging: david.aliregarcia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MEXICO PESO/

Spec net U.S. dollar longs edge up in latest week -CFTC, Reuters

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

July 31 (Reuters) - Speculators raised their bullish positions on the U.S. dollar a tad earlier this week ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy statement, according to Reuters calculations and data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday. The value of the dollar's net long position rose to $29.79 billion in the week ended July 28, the highest since the week of June 9 and higher than $29.77 billion in the previous week. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by James Dalgleish) ((gertrude.chavez@thomsonreuters.com; +1-646-223-6322; Reuters Messaging: gertrude.chavez.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/CFTC

FOREX-Dollar ends July on sour note on weak U.S. labor cost data

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Dollar index rises nearly 2 percent in July * Greenback pares losses after comments by Fed's Bullard * Upbeat core inflation data bolsters euro * Next week's U.S. jobs data seen as key driver (Adds remarks from Fed's Bullard, updates market action) By Richard Leong NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against a basket of currencies on Friday, ending a decent month on a sour note as a record-low rise in U.S. employment costs in the second quarter dialed back bets the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates later this year. The euro rebounded strongly against the greenback following Thursday's losses in the wake of encouraging inflation data in the euro zone. ID:nL5N10B2D7 A nearly 3 percent drop in Brent crude oil prices LCOc1 hurt the Norwegian crown, Australian dollar and other commodity-linked currencies, but they turned higher as the greenback stumbled on the disappointing 0.2 percent gain in labor costs in the second quarter. ID:nL1N10B0WI "It knocked the knees out of the dollar longs. It took everyone by shock," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York. Some analysts had reckoned a rise of at least 0.5 percent in the employment cost index would seal the deal for the Fed to hike rates, perhaps as early as September. A stronger-than-forecast report on U.S. Midwest factory activity took some of the sting out of the ECI report. ID:nN9N0YO02K The greenback trimmed its losses in late trading following comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, who downplayed the tepid ECI figure. "We are (in a) good position to make the first normalization move," Bullard told the paper, adding he was open for a rate hike in September. The dollar index .DXY fell 0.33 percent at 97.230 after being down more 1 percent. It was up 1.8 percent in July. The euro EUR= rose over 0.4 percent against the dollar at $1.0981, reducing its monthly loss to 1.4 percent. The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 123.93 yen JPY= after touching a near seven-week high on Thursday. It gained 1.2 percent versus the yen in July. The next big moment for the greenback will be the July U.S. jobs report, which, if it shows further jobs growth, may spur traders to add bullish bets on the dollar, analysts said. ECONUS Meanwhile, currencies closely linked to oil and commodities prices fell earlier Friday on fears about global oversupply and diminishing demand from China before they recovered on the dollar's downturn. O/R ID:nL3N10B1DD The dollar ended flat against the Norwegian crown at 8.1667 crowns for a monthly gain of 4.1 percent NOK= . The Aussie dollar AUD=D3 gained 0.2 percent versus the greenback at $0.7303, paring its loss in July to 5.3 percent. (Additional reporting by Jemima Kelly and Patrick Graham in London, Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Mark Heinrich and James Dalgleish) ((richard.leong@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6313; Reuters Messaging: richard.leong.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net; Twitter @RichardLeong2)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/

PRECIOUS-Gold rises after U.S. data, set for biggest monthly drop in 2 years

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Dollar falls against basket of major currencies * Spot gold falls 6.4 pct in July so far * Investors took $1.2 bln out of precious funds-report (Updates prices, adds comment) By Marcy Nicholson and Clara Denina NEW YORK/LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Gold reversed earlier losses on Friday as the dollar fell after weaker-than-expected U.S. data, but prices remained on course for their biggest monthly decline in more than two years on expectations the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates. A U.S. government index on employment costs rose less than forecast. ID:nLLAVIEBOZ "There is no wage inflation in the U.S. and that was the trigger for the sharp move in the euro/dollar rate, which is in turn lending support to the entire commodity sector," Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann said. Spot gold XAU= , lower initially, rose as much as 1.4 percent to a session high of $1,103.13 an ounce, before trading up 0.8 percent at $1,095.80 by 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT). U.S. gold for August delivery GCQ5 climbed 0.6 percent to settle at $1,094.90 an ounce. Investor confidence was shaken last week with when bullion prices tumbled to a 5-1/2-year low of $1,077 on July 24. The metal has lost 6.4 percent so far this month, its steepest decline since June 2013. The dollar .DXY fell as much as 1.1 percent against a basket of currencies after the data on employment costs. FRX/ Figures had shown a second-quarter improvement in U.S. economic growth on Thursday, which led investors to increase bets the Federal Reserve was on track to raise interest rates, possibly at its next meeting in September. ID:nL1N10A30U ID:nL1N10A24A The next crucial data release is U.S. nonfarm payroll figures, due on Aug. 7. ECONUS "If we get a very strong labor market report next week then this gold strength is going to be reversed," Briesemann said. Waning investment demand and weak physical appetite for gold also pose a further downside risk for prices, said Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau. Investors worldwide pulled $1.2 billion out of precious metals funds in the week ended July 29, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report showed. ID:nL1N10B1DD "Physical demand has been on the low side with premiums in China and India hardly moving," MKS Group trader Jason Cerisola said in a note. On the Shanghai Gold Exchange, premiums stood at just over $1 an ounce on the London spot price, traders said. GOL/AS In other precious metals, spot silver XAG= was up 0.7 percent at $14.75 an ounce. "Silver might soon be in a shortage as low commodity prices prompt further capital expenditure cuts across primary and secondary mines," said Capital Economics in a note. Spot platinum XPT= fell 0.4 percent to $982.25 an ounce and palladium XPD= dropped 1.2 percent to $611 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr in Manila; Editing by Dale Hudson and Diane Craft) ((Marcy.Nicholson@thomsonreuters.com, +1 646 223 6043; Reuters Messaging Marcy.Nicholson.ThomsonReuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS PRECIOUS/

US judge narrows Bacon-Nygård defamation case tied to Bahamas fire

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

By Joseph Ax NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - A New York judge has narrowed the scope of a $100 million defamation lawsuit filed by billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon against Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygård, part of a bitter dispute over neighboring properties they own in the Bahamas. In a decision made public on Friday, Justice Cynthia Kern in State Supreme Court in Manhattan dismissed 105 of the 135 allegedly defamatory statements that formed the basis for Bacon's $100 million lawsuit in January, accusing Nygård of orchestrating an "obsessive" smear campaign. Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital Management, can continue to pursue the remaining defamation claims. Nygård, for his part, filed a $50 million countersuit in April accusing Bacon of a "vendetta" against him, including harassment and frivolous litigation. Bacon's lawyers have asked Kern to throw out Nygård's claims. Each man has denied the other's allegations. The fight stems from Bacon's opposition to Nygård's plans to rebuild his estate in their gated Bahamas community, following a 2009 fire. Bacon has said the work could harm the environment. In his countersuit, Nygård claimed that Bacon may have prompted a groundskeeper to set the fire. Bacon has denied any role in the fire. Bacon's lawsuit accused Nygård of falsely linking him to drug smuggling, insider trading and the Ku Klux Klan. In a decision dated July 28, Kern said many of the purportedly defamatory statements were made more than one year before the lawsuit was filed, thus exceeding the state's statute of limitations. "The argument by Bacon that he could not bring the present action against defendants until at least 2014 because he only had suspicions and did not have any hard proof is without basis," Kern wrote. Bacon had claimed that Nygård concealed his role in the alleged harassment, making it impossible to sue sooner. In a statement, Nygård's lawyer Aaron Marks called the decision a "significant victory" and added, "Bacon's remaining claims in the case are frivolous and we expect that they will be similarly disposed." Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Bacon, said in a statement that while he disagreed with the dismissal of some claims, "we are confident that, when Mr. Nygård's egregious conduct is exposed in court, we will prevail." The case is Bacon v Nygård et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 150400/2015. (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by David Gregorio) ((joseph.ax@thomsonreuters.com; 1-646-223-6594 1-917-848-0813; Reuters Messaging: joseph.ax.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BAHAMAS NYGARD/BACON

LATAM WRAP-Brazil underperforms on wider budget deficit

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

By Davide Scigliuzzo NEW YORK, July 31 (IFR) - More negative news out of Brazil on Friday, this time in the form of a bigger-than-expected budget deficit in June, ensured the region's credits were ending the week slightly wider in secondary markets. Brazil's primary budget deficit of R$9.323bn for June came in well below analyst expectations of R$2bn, pushing the real close to recent lows against the dollar even as most Latin American currencies strengthened against the greenback on Friday. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N10B15T The news, that followed S&P's move earlier in the week to put the country's rating on negative outlook, pushed Petrobras's 2024s about 5bp wider at a spread of 505bp-500bp, according to a corporate bond trader in New York. The primary market was more active than usual with Cable & Wireless unit Sable International raising US$750m through a seven-year bond. The bond priced at a final yield of 7.125% - 12.5bp tight to price talk of 7.25% but still wider than early indications of mid 6%s. Bankers covering the region said conditions were constructive for new bond sales, but they are not expecting a lot of supply in the next few weeks. Brazilian conglomerate Cosan is yet to make a move on a potential bond sale after completing investor meetings last week, but insurance company Sagicor Financial could emerge early next week with its US dollar bond issue. Sagicor, which has operations in the Caribbean and the US, is looking to raise up to US$320m through a bullet bond, which will refinance some US$300m in debt maturing in 2016, according to an investor presentation seen by IFR. The company derives nearly half of its premium revenue from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. Outflows from dedicated emerging markets bond funds intensified in the week ended July 29, with nearly US$394m leaving the asset class, according to EPFR data quoted by UniCredit. "Risk appetite for emerging markets remains fragile given global rate risks, although yields are becoming more attractive, particularly in LatAm," UniCredit analyst Martin Rea said in a note to clients on Friday. (Reporting by Davide Scigliuzzo; editing by Shankar Ramakrishnan) ((davide.scigliuzzo@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 8388; Reuters Messaging: davide.scigliuzzo.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS EMERGING/LATAM

Ghana 91-day bill yield falls to 25.2010 pct

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

ACCRA, July 31 (Reuters) - The Bank of Ghana said the yield on its 91-day bill fell to 25.2010 percent at an auction on Friday, from 25.2243 percent at the last sale. The bank said it accepted all 716.13 million cedis ($190 mln) worth of bids tendered for the 91-day paper. For full details please click here: http://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Treasury/Auctresults%201444.pdf ($1 USD = 3.7700 Ghana cedis) (Writing by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Bate Felix) ((kwasi.kpodo@thomsonreuters.com; +233)(244696990; Reuters Messaging: kwasi.kpodo.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: GHANA BONDS/

UPDATE 1-New Bank of England policymaker says to cut all hedge fund ties

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* New MPC member Vlieghe to be bought out of Brevan Howard stake * Finance ministry had said links were no conflict of interest * Vlieghe originally intended to get long-term incentive payments * Arrangement led to questions from parliament, media (Adds context) By David Milliken LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - New Bank of England policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday that he would sever all links with his previous employer, one of the world's biggest hedge funds, to avoid "any mistaken impression" of a conflict of interest. Vlieghe had wanted to stay part of a long-term incentive plan at Brevan Howard, where he was a partner, after he joins the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee on Sept. 1. The arrangement would have provided him with payments based on how much money was managed by the fund. Its traders make bets on the impact of central bank decisions. Britain's finance ministry said on Tuesday, when it announced the appointment of the 44-year-old economist, that Vlieghe's stake in Brevan Howard did not pose a conflict of interest. ID:nL5N1081WZ But this caused surprise in financial circles and drew attention from a parliamentary committee that monitors the BoE. On Friday, Vlieghe said in a statement that he had reached an agreement to be bought out from his stake. "As of August 31st I will have severed all financial and other ties with Brevan Howard. I have taken this step to avoid any mistaken impression of a conflict of interest," he said. A source familiar with the arrangement had said previously that it would be impossible for Vlieghe to sell his stake at close to its fair value. ID:nL5N1095TK Vlieghe returns to the central bank, where he previously worked as an economist, at a sensitive time. The BoE is edging closer to raising interest rates for the first time since the 2008-09 financial crisis. Economists who know Vlieghe praise his analytical skills. Brevan Howard is one of the biggest players in the $3 trillion hedge fund industry. In May, it and other financial institutions came under scrutiny after European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure spoke at an invitation-only dinner of fund managers, bankers and academics in London. At the dinner, which was organised by institutions including a research institute sponsored by Brevan Howard, Coeure made comments which moved the euro hours before his speech was made public. ID:nL5N0YB5C1 Conservative lawmaker Andrew Tyrie, who chairs the British parliament committee that vets new BoE policymakers, said on Thursday he would seek reassurance that Vlieghe's business interests did not conflict with his MPC role. ID:nL5N10A5HJ At the same time, Tyrie also said it was important that conflict of interest rules were applied in a way that did not restrict the BoE's access to talented economists. Former BoE policymaker Andrew Sentance said the way rules were applied in the past could put off economists coming from a commercial rather than an academic background. (Editing by William Schomberg/Mark Heinrich) ((david.milliken@reuters.com; +44 20 7542 5109; Reuters Messaging: david.milliken.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BRITAIN BOE/VLIEGHE

UPDATE 1-Nigeria banks reject dollar deposits to curb speculation

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

(Adds details, naira, background) By Oludare Mayowa and Chijioke Ohuocha LAGOS, July 31 (Reuters) - Nigeria's commercial lenders have stopped accepting cash deposits in dollars, in a move to discourage speculation on the naira currency, two banks said on Friday. "Banks no longer accept dollar cash due to large speculation on the currency," the chief executive of First City Monument Bank FCMB.LG , Ladi Balogun, told a conference call. Lenders will continue to receive dollar transfers from other banks, he said. His comments were confirmed by another Nigerian lender, which asked not to be identified. "We are constrained due to the current influx of foreign exchange cash deposits we have been receiving in recent times, and the lack of available FX cash outlets, to stop receiving FX cash deposits," that bank told Reuters. Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele last week said the naira, which has lost around 15 percent against the dollar over the past year, with an official devaluation in November and a de facto one in February, was "appropriately priced" at its current level of 197 to the dollar on the interbank market. ID:nL5N10430P The naira has weakened on the parallel market, falling as low as 242, on persistent dollar shortages after the central bank last month limited importers' access to dollars, in order to save its reserves. Early this month, the central bank fixed the spread at which bureaux de change operators can sell dollars to individuals, and has also limited the amount bank customers can spend using their debits cards abroad. Although the restrictions have angered investors and frustrated companies that need dollars for imports, Emefiele has rejected the idea of loosening the curbs, saying the central bank could not adopt an "indeterminate policy" of currency depreciation. Global ratings agency Standards & Poor's has said Nigeria will have to devalue its currency at some stage, possibly by more than 15 percent, though it saw the adjustments as likely to be gradual. ID:nL5N0ZV2H2 FCMB's Balogun said the parallel market was beginning to see a reversal in the naira's weakness as banks stopped taking dollars deposits. (Editing by Robin Pomeroy) ((chijioke.ohuocha@thomsonreuters.com; +234 703 4180 621; Reuters Messaging: chijioke.ohuocha.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)) Keywords: NIGERIA CURRENCY/

CORRECTED-MOVES-R.J. O'Brien appoints Tony Dalton head of forex unit (July 27)

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

(Corrects headline and first paragraph to say Dalton was named head of the entire forex unit, not just for New York; Corrects second paragraph to say Dalton joined BofA in 2000, not 2012) July 27 (Reuters) - Chicago-based independent futures brokerage R.J. O'Brien & Associates appointed Tony Dalton as head of foreign exchange division. Dalton, who joined on Monday at its New York office, has worked at Bank of America BAC.N from 2000 to 2014. He has also worked at ABN AMRO and Barclays Bank Plc BARCR.UL . (Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru) ((Bengaluru newsroom: moves@thomsonreuters.com)) Keywords: RJOBRIEN MOVES/TONYDALTON

BRIEF-S&P raises Slovak Republic long-term ratings to 'A+'

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

July 31 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services: * S&P revises slovak republic sovereign credit outlook down to stable from positive; current rating is A+ * S&P - expect growth in slovak republic will accelerate further in 2015, supported by favorable external and domestic factors * S&P says also think that slovak policymakers will continue to gradually consolidate government finances and lower the debt burden * S&P says raising long-term sovereign credit ratings on Slovakia to 'A+' from 'A' and affirming the 'A-1' short-term ratings * S&P - rating is supported by Slovakia's low external indebtedness, strong growth that is becoming increasingly broad based, improving fiscal metrics * S&P - expect that domestic demand, which is a tax-rich component of growth, will increasingly fuel more robust economic growth in Slovakia * S&P - expect Slovakia's general government deficit will narrow to below 2% of GDP in 2018 * Source: http://bit.ly/1OSZ4We ((Bengaluru Newsroom; +1 646 223 8780))

South Africa's rand recovers from 14-year lows on trade surplus

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

JOHANNESBURG, July 31 (Reuters) - South Africa's rand touched a new 14-year low against the dollar on Friday but later turned firmer, helped by data showing a surplus in the trade balance for the second month in a row. The local unit ZAR=D3 hit its weakest in the session at 12.7700/dollar, a level last seen in December 2001, but clawed back to a high of 12.5810 after the revenue service said the trade surplus widened to 5.80 billion rand. ID:nnL5N10B35R By 1533 GMT the rand was trading at 12.6100 to the greenback, up 0.74 percent from where it ended Thursday trade in New York. "The ... trade balance data bolstered the rand somewhat shortly after the release, as it helped ease fears about how well South Africa will cope with U.S. monetary policy normalisation, given the country's large current account deficit," said NKC analyst Bart Stemmet. "That said, trade dynamics would need to improve markedly over the medium term before we see a continued currency rebound - but this is unlikely to happen." The rand has fallen 9 percent against the dollar since the year began, pressured mostly by investors offloading emerging market assets in expectation of higher interest rates in the United States. The rand has been particularly vulnerable because South Africa relies heavily on portfolio inflows to plug its current account deficit, currently at 4.8 percent of GDP. In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 ZAR186= added 1.5 basis points to close at 8.26 percent. (Reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by James Macharia) ((stella.mapenzauswa@thomsonreuters.com; +27 11 775 3161; Reuters Messaging: stella.mapenzauswa.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS SAFRICA/CURRENCY

Sterling hit after U.S. numbers, month-end hurts

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

By Patrick Graham and Anirban Nag LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Sterling sank almost 1 percent against the euro in afternoon trade on Friday, weighed down by month-end outflows and poor U.S. wage data that undermined expectations of the first rises in interest rates by major economies later this year. Sterling has hit more than 7-year highs against the euro this month on a revival of expectations that the Bank of England was likely to follow swiftly on the U.S. Federal Reserve's heels in raising rates. As such the pound and the dollar have tended to be correlated through a turbulent month for global markets and the euro's surge on Friday came at the expense of both. Dealers said the U.S. data had encouraged investors to book profits on a rally that had also taken sterling it to its highest in a month against the greenback earlier this week. "We loved that spike in the euro, a lot of people have jumped on it, against the pound as well," said a dealer with one bank in London. Data out of Britain has been robust, with consumer demand holding up well and growth accelerating in the second quarter. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has indicated a decision on rates will come around the turn of the year. The Bank has said publicly that it does not have to wait for the Fed to hike rates. But many reckon that, behind closed doors, it is concerned that if it were to raise rates first, the already-strong pound would appreciate further, hurting exporters and pushing down consumer prices. Against the broadly weaker dollar, sterling was up 0.1 percent at $1.5625 GBP=D4 , having hit a four-week high of $1.5691 on Wednesday. The euro was up by 0.9 percent at 70.70 pence EURGBP=D4 while the BoE's trade-weighted sterling index was at 93.6, having hit a one-week high of 94.3 =GBP on Thursday. That was just shy of a 7-1/2-year peak of 94.5 touched earlier in the month. "There are some month-end outflows and profit-taking which is weighing on sterling," said a London-based spot trader. "It remains a buy on dips against the euro, but some long positions are being trimmed." Month-end flows are caused by global portfolio managers rebalancing their currency hedges on their exposure to global stocks and bond markets. "Super Thursday" next week will see the combined release of the BoE's policy decision, inflation report and, for the first time, the minutes of the meeting published on the same day. No interest rate change is expected, although the vote could show the first split among the nine-member MPC this year. Some are expecting that up to three members will vote in favour of an immediate rate increase. ID:nL5N10B2GD "Overall, we expect the BoE to provide a triple whammy for the bullish sterling sentiment as the minutes are likely to contain two or potentially three members voting for a rate hike," said Viraj Patel, currency strategist at ING. "The latest inflation projections will show the 2 percent target being met earlier given the recent pickup in wages and Governor Carney is unlikely to aggressively talk down sterling strength in the press conference, conceding that it is a by-product of a stronger economy." (Editing by Alison Williams) ((patrick.graham@thomsonreuters.com)(+44207 542 9429)(patrick.graham.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS STERLING/CLOSE

New Bank of England policymaker says to fully sever hedge fund links

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - New Bank of England policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday that he would sever all financial links with his previous employer, hedge fund Brevan Howard, to avoid any accusations of a conflict of interest. Vlieghe had previously intended to remain part of a long-term incentive plan which would have provided payments based on assets under management at Brevan Howard, whose traders bet on interest rate moves. Britain's finance ministry said this did not pose a conflict of interest. But on Friday Vlieghe said he had reached an arrangement to be bought out of his stake. "As of August 31st I will have severed all financial and other ties with Brevan Howard. I have taken this step to avoid any mistaken impression of a conflict of interest," he said in a statement. (Reporting by David Milliken; editing by William Schomberg) ((david.milliken@reuters.com; +44 20 7542 5109; Reuters Messaging: david.milliken.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BRITAIN BOE/VLIEGHE

FOREX-Dollar ends July on sour note on weak U.S. labor cost data

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Dollar index on track for 1.2 percent gain in July * Upbeat core inflation data bolsters euro * Commodity-linked currencies recover on dollar drop * Next week's U.S. jobs data seen as key driver (Updates to U.S. trading; changes byline, dateline, previous LONDON) By Richard Leong NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against a basket of currencies on Friday, ending a decent month on a sour note as a record-low rise in U.S. employment costs in the second quarter dialled back bets the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates later this year. The euro rebounded strongly against the greenback following Thursday's losses in the wake of encouraging inflation data in the euro zone. ID:nL5N10B2D7 A near 1 percent drop in Brent crude oil prices LCOc1 hurt the Norwegian crown, Australian dollar and other commodity-linked currencies, but they turned higher as the greenback stumbled on the disappointing 0.2 percent gain in labor costs in the second quarter. ID:nL1N10B0WI Some analysts had reckoned a rise of at least 0.5 percent in the employment cost index would seal the deal for the Fed to hike rates, perhaps as early as September. Fed policy-makers have been concerned about the absence of wage pressure even as the jobless rate hit its lowest in over seven years in June. The latest ECI reading also tempered the optimism from Thursday's report on second-quarter U.S. growth. "It knocked the knees out of the dollar longs. It took everyone by shock," said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York. A stronger-than-forecast report on U.S. Midwest factory activity removed some of the sting from the ECI report. ID:nN9N0YO02K The dollar index .DXY was at 96.599, down 0.98 percent for its biggest one-day decline in nearly eight weeks. It was on track for a 1.2 percent gain in July. The euro EUR= rose 1.3 percent against the dollar at $1.1075, reducing its monthly loss to 0.5 percent. The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 123.71 yen JPY= after touching a near seven-week high on Thursday. It was on track to rise 1 percent versus the yen in July. The next big moment for the greenback will be the July U.S. jobs report. ECONUS "The trend of dollar strength will probably continue heading into the U.S. jobs data next week," Shinji Kureda, head of FX trading group at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. in Tokyo. Meanwhile, currencies closely linked to oil and commodities prices fell earlier Friday on fears about global oversupply and diminishing demand from China before they recovered from the dollar's downturn. O/R ID:nL3N10B1DD The dollar fell 0.7 percent against the Norwegian crown at 8.1058 crowns, reducing its monthly gain to 3.3 percent NOK= . The Aussie dollar AUD=D3 gained 0.7 percent versus the greenback at $0.7341, putting it on track for a 4.7 percent loss in July. (Additional reporting by Jemima Kelly and Patrick Graham in London, Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Mark Heinrich and James Dalgleish) ((richard.leong@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6313; Reuters Messaging: richard.leong.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net; Twitter @RichardLeong2)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/

Mexico central bank sells $200 mln in currency auction

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

MEXICO CITY, July 31 (Reuters) - The central bank of Mexico sold $200 million on Friday at an average price of 16.0116 pesos per dollar, the bank said, part of an auction program to boost foreign exchange liquidity following a slump in the peso MXN=. (Reporting by Christine Murray) ((Christine.Murray@thomsonreuters.com; +52-55-5282-7147; Reuters Messaging: christine.murray.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MEXICO ECONOMY/

POLONIA Rate stays unchanged

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

WARSAW, Jul 31 (Reuters) - POLONIA the reference rate for Overnight deposits amounted to 1.48 percent. The volume of transactions concluded till 16:30 by banks participating in POLONIA fixing amounted to 2,625 mln PLN. Note: Description of reference rate at: http://www.acipolska.pl/ ((warsaw.newsroom@reuters.com))

Nigeria banks reject dollar deposits to curb speculation - FCMB CEO

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

LAGOS, July 31 (Reuters) - Nigeria's commercial lenders have stopped collecting cash deposits in dollars in a move to discourage speculation on the naira currency, which has been hit by the fall in oil price, the chief executive of First City Monument Bank FCMB.LG said on Friday. "Banks no longer accept dollar cash due to large speculation on the currency", CEO Ladi Balogun told a conference call. However, commercial lenders will continue to receive dollar transfers from other banks. His comments were confirmed by another Nigerian lender, which asked not to be identified. "We are constrained due to the current influx of foreign exchange cash deposits we have been receiving in recent times, and the lack of available FX cash outlets, to stop receiving FX cash deposits," it said by email. (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Alison Williams) ((chijioke.ohuocha@thomsonreuters.com; +234 703 4180 621; Reuters Messaging: chijioke.ohuocha.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)) Keywords: NIGERIA CURRENCY/

South African unions divided over gold producers' wage offer

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Producers say there is little appetite for a strike * Industry hit by declining metal prices, high costs * Unions to present latest wage offer to members By Zandi Shabalala JOHANNESBURG, July 31 (Reuters) - Unions at South African gold producers are divided over whether to accept a final wage offer and avert the kind of prolonged strike that affected the platinum sector last year. Wage talks between South African bullion producers and unions started in June with the two biggest unions, which are arch rivals, setting wage increase demands ranging from 80 percent to over 100 percent for the lowest-paid workers. AngloGold Ashanti ANGJ.J , Sibanye Gold SGLJ.J , Harmony Gold HARJ.J and two smaller producers, have offered wage increases of up to 17 percent, saying the sector is grappling with depressed prices, falling production and rising costs. "The appetite generally for a strike or anything similar to what happened in platinum is not very high at these sort of offer levels," Neal Froneman, the CEO of Sibanye told reporters. The platinum industry suffered a record five-month wage strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) last year, which forced firms to close shafts. AMCU's chief negotiator Jimmy Gama said the wage offer had been improved and this showed employers had a positive attitude towards talks, and said the union "will hold a mass rally to consult members on Sunday" about the proposed wage rise. AMCU had originally said it would seek a monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($989) for workers who earning around 6,000 rand. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents 52 percent of the workforce and had demanded wage hikes of 80 percent, said the latest offer was way too low. "We are disappointed in this offer. It is undermining the integrity of the workers," said David Sipunzi, the general secretary of the NUM. Solidarity union and UASA, which represent high-skilled workers, said they would consult their members and report back to the gold producers next week. Sibanye Gold and AngloGold have offered an additional 1,000 rand a month to entry-level workers, and increase of 17.5 percent, while Harmony Gold's offered 500 rand a month for the lowest-paid workers and a gain share of 5 percent from profits on a quarterly basis. ID:nL5N10A4GE South Africa's gold industry has been declining. According to the Chamber of Mines, costs between 2008 and 2014 rose on average by over 20 percent per year. Production over the past decade has declined by almost 8 percent annually. ($1 = 12.6430 rand) (Editing by James Macharia and David Evans) ((zandi.shabalala@thomsonreuters.com; +27 11 775 3158; Reuters Messaging: zandi.shabalala.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: SAFRICA GOLD/WAGES

Indonesia's central bank extends time for overnight FX deposit auction

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

JAKARTA, July 31 (Reuters) - Indonesia's central bank extended the window of its auction for overnight deposits in foreign currency to optimise banks' foreign exchange liquidity management, Bank Indonesia said on Friday. The duration was stretched to 2-4 p.m. from 2-3 p.m. every working day, according to a statement by the central bank. "(The extension) is to add more alternatives to banks' forex liquidity deposit after daily transactions so that banks can optimise their forex liquidity management," the statement added. Indonesia's rupiah is one of emerging Asia's worst-performing currency, weakening more than 8 percent so far this year to trade at 17-year lows. (Reporting by Nilufar Rizki; writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Michael Taylor and Alison Williams) ((michael.taylor@thomsonreuters.com; +62)(0)(21 2992-7602; Reuters Messaging: michael.taylor.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: INDONESIA FOREX/AUCTION

Georgia's economy slows in H1 from last year

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

TBILISI, July 31 (Reuters) - Georgia's economic growth slowed to 2.6 percent in the first half of this year compared with 6 percent in the same period last year, the National Statistics service said on Friday. Gross domestic product grew 4.7 percent last year, missing the government's initial forecast of 6 percent. The former Soviet republic's economy is suffering the side-effects of a plunge in the Russian rouble RUB= . Georgia, which is traversed by pipelines carrying Caspian oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, has also suffered a decline in exports and remittances and the government deficit is rising. Growth slowed each month of the first half: to 3.1 percent this June from 6.4 percent a year ago, to 2.1 percent in May from 6.3 percent, to 0.9 percent in April from 2.7 percent, to 4.3 percent in March from 8.3 percent, 4.9 percent in February from 5.4 percent and to 0.5 percent in January from 7.8 percent. The Georgian parliament confirmed the government's decision to halve the country's growth forecast for this year to 2.0 percent from 5 percent, and decided to reduce budget spending by 160 million lari ($70.5 million), pointing to serious problems in the economy. ($1=2.27 lari) (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Larry King) ((margarita.antidze@thomsonreuters.com; +995322999370; Reuters Messaging: margarita.antidze.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: GEORGIA GDP/

UPDATE 1-Russian rouble falls on central bank rate cut, weak oil

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

(Updates after rate decision.) MOSCOW, July 31 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble extended losses to reach a four-and-a-half-month low on Friday after the central bank cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points and oil prices fell. Although the rate cut to 11 percent RUCBIR=ECI was in line with analysts' expectations, some in the market had expected the central bank to leave rates on hold. The fifth rate cut of the year came despite a recent bout of rouble weakness that threatens to exacerbate inflation trends. ID:nL5N10B2RO At 1330 GMT, the rouble was around 1.3 percent weaker against the dollar at 60.54 RUBUTSTN=MCX and had lost 2.7 percent to 67.20 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX . It earlier hit its lowest against the dollar since March 18. The Russian currency is down over 3 percent against the dollar since the end of last week. Analysts said rouble weakness might slow the pace of monetary policy easing at meetings later in the year, but many expected cautious rate cuts to continue. The central bank halted its policy of buying foreign exchange to top up its reserves earlier this week because of market volatility, showing it remains alert to swings in the rouble. On Friday, it sought to bolster confidence in the Russian currency by saying the decision to suspend the forex purchases would mean less pressure on the rouble in the third and fourth quarters. ID:nR4N0QV01G Brent crude LCOc1 was trading at around $53.2 a barrel on Friday, 0.3 percent down on the day. It was earlier down over 1 percent, and its partial rebound helped the rouble pare losses. Oil is Russia's chief export and falls in the commodity have been a major factor behind recent losses for Russian assets. Russian share indexes were mixed on Friday, reflecting sharp moves in the rouble. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 1.2 percent to 857 points, while the rouble-based MICEX .MCX was up 0.8 percent at 1,649 points. For rouble poll data see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/fx-polls?RIC=RUB= For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM Russia in graphics: http://link.reuters.com/dun63s (Reporting by Alexander Winning and Vladimir Abramov; Editing by Jason Bush, Larry King) ((alexander.winning@thomsonreuters.com; +7 495 775 1242; Reuters Messaging: alexander.winning.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: RUSSIA MARKETS/ROUBLE

Five things to watch on Bank of England's "Super Thursday"

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - The Bank of England will for the first time release a slew of key reports alongside its monthly monetary policy decision on Thursday, meaning investors and the public will have to contend with a flood of information usually released separately. At 1100 GMT on Aug. 6, the BoE will simultaneously publish its monthly decision on interest rates, the breakdown of how its policymakers voted along with a summary of their debate, and its quarterly forecasts for Britain's economy, including inflation. Governor Mark Carney will then hold a news conference at 1145 GMT. Below is a summary of what are likely to be the main points of what some economists have dubbed the BoE's "Super Thursday". INTEREST RATES - Britain's economy is finally growing strongly. But with inflation still at zero and expected to return to the Bank's 2 percent target over roughly two years, the BoE is expected to keep interest rates at their record low of 0.5 percent. Governor Mark Carney has said a decision on raising rates is likely to come into focus around the turn of the year. Most economists expect a rate hike in February. VOTE COUNT - While the Monetary Policy Committee is expected to keep rates on hold, it could split for the first time this year. Many economists predict two, possibly three, dissenting votes on the nine-member MPC. Ian McCafferty and Martin Weale voted to raise rates between August and December last year, before the plunge in oil prices raised fears of a damaging bout of deflation. Fellow MPC member Kristin Forbes has also suggested that she might call for a rate hike soon. David Miles could mark his last MPC meeting by dissenting. But he is due to be replaced in September by a hedge fund economist, Gertjan Vlieghe, whose past academic research prompted some economists to say that he is likely to want to keep rates low for a while longer. INFLATION FORECASTS - In May, the Bank said inflation was likely to hit its 2 percent target in two years' time. But since then, the pound has risen, which will push down import prices. A renewed fall in oil prices and expectations in markets that the BoE will raise rates sooner than it had envisaged in May could also slow the rise in British inflation. On the other hand, workers' pay is growing more quickly than the Bank forecast in May. Private-sector economists are split on whether the BoE will lower its medium-term inflation forecasts, something which, on its own, would be taken by investors as a sign that there is less urgency to start raising rates. WAGES AND PRODUCTIVITY - Another part of the puzzle for the BoE is whether the recent pick-up in pay is being offset by an improvement in Britain's poor productivity. Carney said on July 16 it was too soon to be sure that the hourly output of workers had increased enough to slow the impact that rising wages will have on inflation. If the BoE suggests productivity is picking up more strongly, it could temper expectations about an early rate hike and the pace of further increases in borrowing costs. CARNEY'S COMMENTARY - The governor and other Bank officials will hold a one-hour news conference starting 45 minutes after the combined announcements. That will give Carney the chance to see how markets have reacted and address any interpretation by investors that he does not agree with. In an opening statement, before he takes questions from reporters, Carney may stress one aspect or another of the outlook for the Bank's rate-setters. (Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Kevin Liffey) ((william.schomberg@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 7778; Reuters Messaging: william.schomberg.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BRITAIN ECONOMY/BOE

UPDATE 1-Mexico's Carstens says could raise rates at any time to defend peso

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

(Adds central banker comments, market reaction) MEXICO CITY, July 31 (Reuters) - Mexico's Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens said on Friday that policymakers could raise interest rates at any time to defend the peso, independently of what the U.S. Federal Reserve does. Carstens told local radio that even though inflation was at a record low in Mexico and the economy was still sluggish, policymakers could use higher rates to defend the peso, which slumped in July to a record low. "If the peso needs the reinforcement of higher rates, we will raise them independently of what the Fed is going to do," he said. "We could raise rates in August, we don't have certainty that it will happen in August. It could be at any moment." The central bank's next scheduled meeting is Sept. 21. Mexico's peso MXN= extended gains slightly following Carstens comments. The peso firmed more than 1 percent after authorities boosted daily dollar auctions on Thursday and the central bank had suggested it could move outside its regular calendar. ID:nL1N10A2SQ (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe) ((michael.oboyle@thomsonreuters.com; +5255-5282-7153; Reuters Messaging: michael.oboyle.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MEXICO PESO/

PRESS DIGEST- Canada - July 31

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

July 31 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories from selected Canadian newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE GLOBE AND MAIL ** Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO pushed back the commercial launch of its Global 7000 corporate jet by two years as chief executive Alain Bellemare slows the company's output of business aircraft and tries to reset near-term sales expectations for its flagship C Series plane. (http://bit.ly/1De3sy5) ** Home Capital Group Inc HCG.TO began suspending mortgage brokers after its board of directors received a letter from an anonymous whistle-blower last fall pointing it to problems with some of its mortgages, company officials confirmed Thursday. (http://bit.ly/1IxloUr) ** Major landlords of failed retailer Target Canada have raised concerns about the U.S. parent's role in the insolvency process - and whether it jeopardizes creditors' collecting what could be billions of dollars they are owed. RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust REI_u.TO , the largest landlord of Target Canada, contends the retailer could be holding back on releasing vital information, possibly putting all creditors at a disadvantage. (http://bit.ly/1eFBKy5) NATIONAL POST ** The federal and provincial governments have put aside their differences to help expand Toyota's 7203.T manufacturing operations in Southern Ontario. The two governments will provide a total of $100 million toward Toyota's planned $421-million investment in the automaker's Cambridge operations. (http://bit.ly/1MBpX2F) ** Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO has struck a deal to sell a 50 percent stake in its Zaldivar copper mine in Chile for just over $1 billion, giving the company's balance sheet some much-needed relief. The buyer is Antofagasta Plc ANTO.L , a large Chilean copper miner. (http://bit.ly/1MBq9iv) ** Goldcorp Inc G.TO has slashed its dividend 60 percent in order to maintain financial flexibility in a miserable gold market. The Vancouver-based mining giant announced on Thursday that it cut the monthly dividend to two cents per share, down from five cents. The move will save Goldcorp almost $300 million a year. (http://bit.ly/1MBqdid) (Compiled by Mansi Goenka in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings) ((mansi.goenka@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 3205; Reuters Messaging: mansi.goenka.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: PRESS DIGEST CANADA/

UPDATE 4-Strong franc leaves Swiss central bank with record first-half loss

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* SNB posts record 50.1 bln Sfr loss in first half * Says cannot pay year-end dividend if results don't improve * Swiss cantons say still budgeting a 1 bln Sfr payout (Adds comment on dividend from Swiss central bank) By Joshua Franklin and Katharina Bart ZURICH, July 31 (Reuters) - The Swiss franc's surge after a currency cap was dropped pushed Switzerland's central bank to a record first half loss, casting doubt on its ability to pay dividends on which some local government shareholders depend. The 50.1 billion franc ($51.95 billion) loss reported on Friday means the Swiss National Bank will need to make a massive profit in the second half of 2015 if it is to pay out a dividend to owners. Stakeholders include the federal government and Swiss cantons, or states. "A dividend for 2015 for the federal government and cantons is ruled out if the SNB's results don't improve by year-end," SNB spokesman Walter Meier said. The central bank currently carries 27.52 billion francs in distribution reserves. This would be wiped out if full-year results show a similar loss. The profits of the SNB, which do not impact its monetary policy, have been a delicate subject politically since it paid no dividend in 2013 after a big loss on the value of its gold holdings. "The dividend really makes a difference," said Credit Suisse economist Lukas Gehrig. "It can tip a budget from deficit to surplus or vice versa." Gehrig estimated the SNB will need a second-half profit of 25 billion francs for a shareholder payout assuming it also utilises distribution reserves from 2014. Peter Hegglin, the head of Switzerland's 26 cantonal finance directors, voiced cautious optimism about a payout despite the hefty loss. "I'm not going to assume from a first-half loss that there won't be a year-end dividend. A first-half loss can be reversed in the second half," Hegglin said. "Until now, we are maintaining our long-term view of a 1 billion franc dividend at year-end." FRANC PRESSURE The SNB's policy practices and ownership structure have also come under intense scrutiny after its shock January policy move. ID:nL5N0VZ1ES The first-half loss was almost entirely -- 47.2 billion francs -- due to losses on foreign exchange positions. Since ending the 1.20 francs per euro cap, the SNB has intervened in the currency market by buying euros to weaken the franc, which currently hovers at around 1.06 francs per euro EURCHF=EBS . The central bank, which also has several private shareholders, warned that its results rely heavily on developments in the gold, foreign exchange and broader financial markets. "Whether the SNB should continue expanding its poorly performing balance sheet or let the market decide how strong the franc should be, is a big challenge for the new SNB's new Governor Andrea Maechler," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, analyst with London Capital Group. In July, Maechler, one of three policy-makers at the central bank, took up management of the SNB department responsible for currency interventions. ($1 = 0.9644 Swiss francs) (Editing by Catherine Evans) ((joshua.franklin@thomsonreuters.com; +41-5-8306-7007; Reuters Messaging: joshua.franklin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: SWISS SNB/RESULTS

Investor stampede out of emerging markets, gold continues -BAML

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

By Jamie McGeever LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - The stampede out of emerging markets and commodities continued last week as investors dumped yet more billions of dollars worth of assets sensitive to higher U.S. interest rates and worries over China, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Friday. A net $4.5 billion left emerging market equity funds in the week to July 29, bringing the total outflow over the past three weeks to $15 billion, BAML said in its report, which also cited the latest weekly flow figures from data-provider EPFR Global. "Submerging Markets" was how BAML referred to emerging markets. Gold and precious metals funds posted an outflow of $1.2 billion, the largest weekly outflow since December 2013. Chinese equity funds posted a net outflow of $1.6 billion, while Asian stock funds ex-Japan lost almost $3 billion, EPFR said. So far this year investors have pulled $26.6 billion from emerging market equity funds. In that time, they have ploughed a net $60.4 billion into developed market equity funds, all of which has left the United States for Europe, Japan and elsewhere. Copper prices hit a six-year low this week CMCU3 , while Chinese stocks have plunged 14.3 percent in July, their biggest monthly fall since August 2009. As China wobbled and the Federal Reserve paved the way for a U.S. interest rate rise later this year, the pressure on emerging economies showed no sign of letting up this week. Brazil's real hit a 12-year low BRL= and South Africa's rand a 13-1/2 year low against the dollar, forcing central banks in both countries to raise rates, which could have serious implications for growth. Brazil is already in recession and had its ratings outlook revised downwards by Standard & Poor's this week. European equities attracted $2.9 billion of inflows, the 11th straight weekly inflow, and Japanese equity funds pulled in $1.8 billion, their 21st inflow in the past 23 weeks. High yield bond funds posted a "chunky" $1.4 billion outflow, the largest redemption in four weeks, BAML said. (Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Catherine Evans) ((follow me on twitter @ReutersJamie. Email: jamie.mcgeever@thomsonreuters.com; +44)(020 7542 8510; Reuters Messaging: jamie.mcgeever.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS FUNDS/FLOWS

INDICATORS - Kazakhstan - July 31

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

Slow Asian demand despite multi-year low gold prices

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Steady premiums in Hong Kong, modest in China * Indian demand picks up, but no big purchases By Manolo Serapio Jr and Rajendra Jadhav MANILA/MUMBAI, July 31 (Reuters) - Asian gold demand hardly perked up this week even as the price of the precious metal languished near its lowest since 2010 with many would-be buyers predicting further price declines, keeping premiums steady in the world's top gold consuming region. Gold is on course to post a sixth consecutive weekly loss, its longest retreat since 1999, after U.S. economic expansion in the first half backed expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. GOL/ "Demand was only on the first day, Monday. The next day, it was down and the next days too," said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong where, he said, gold is still sold at 90 cents to $1.10 an ounce over the global benchmark, the same as last week. "I think people are still bearish on gold and because everyone is seeing all these bad news like a rate hike in September, no one wants to buy for now." A U.S. rate increase cuts the appeal of assets that don't earn interest such as gold. Gold's draw thinned even more after a July 20 rout that spurred more selling, pushing prices to $1,077 an ounce XAU= on July 24, the lowest since February 2010. "Despite trading at multi-year lows, physical demand has been on the low side with premiums in China and India hardly moving," MKS Group trader Jason Cerisola said in a note. On the Shanghai Gold Exchange, premiums remained at just over $1 an ounce while those in Singapore stayed at about $1, traders said. A sustained selldown in Chinese equities, headed for their biggest monthly loss in six years, is not helping gold. "In China, I think a lot of them are forced to sell gold at really discounted prices to pay off their stock losses. If gold is being sold off, I don't think anybody is buying yet," said Howie Lee, analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore. There were signs of a pickup in Indian demand although premiums only rose to $1.50-$2 an ounce from 80 cents to $1 last week, traders said. Premium rose to as much as $3 late last week, albeit briefly, they said. "Demand has improved due to lower prices. Consumers are buying jewellery, but demand for coins and bars is still sluggish," said Princeson Jose, chairman of Prince Jewellery, a retailer with shops in southern Indian states. "Jewellers have started restocking, but they are not making big purchases. They think prices could drop further before peak demand season at the year end," said a Mumbai-based bank dealer. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr. and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Himani Sarkar) ((manolo.serapio@thomsonreuters.com)(+632 841 8972)(Reuters Messaging: manolo.serapio.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net Twitter: @MannySerapio)) Keywords: ASIA GOLD/PHYSICALS

PRECIOUS-Gold heads for longest weekly losing streak in 16 years

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

* Gold near 5-1/2-year low, eyes worst month since 2013 * U.S. Q2 GDP data seen supporting rate hike this year (Updates prices) By Manolo Serapio Jr MANILA, July 31 (Reuters) - Gold slipped to near 5-1/2-year lows on Friday and was on course for a sixth straight weekly fall, its longest retreat since 1999, after upbeat U.S. economic data strengthened expectations of a near-term hike in interest rates. Bullion was also set to end July with its biggest monthly decline in more than two years after a deep rout last week further shook investor confidence, with more losses seen ahead. The July 20 selloff saw gold trip more than 3 percent, encouraging more investors since then to trim their holdings that pulled the global spot benchmark to $1,077 days later, its lowest since February 2010. Spot gold XAU= was down 0.3 percent at $1,084.80 an ounce by 0623 GMT, and has dropped more than 1 percent for the week. Bullion has lost 7.4 percent so far for the month, its steepest since June 2013. Data on Thursday showed the U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent in the second quarter, less than the 2.6 percent estimated in a Reuters poll, although first-quarter gross domestic product was revised to show growth of 0.6 percent instead of a contraction. ID:nL1N10A30U That reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve is on track to raise interest rates, possibly at its next meeting in September, buoying the dollar and hurting gold anew. The data came after the Fed's policy meeting this week at which it concluded that the world's largest economy is "expanding moderately." "That big overhang is enough to keep gold trading at low levels," said Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau, referring to the looming U.S. rate increase. Waning investment demand and weak physical appetite for gold also pose further downside risk for prices, said Lau. "Despite trading at multi-year lows, physical demand has been on the low side with premiums in China and India hardly moving," MKS Group trader Jason Cerisola said in a note. GOL/AS A potential hike in U.S. interest rates dims the appeal of non-interest bearing assets such as gold. U.S. gold for August delivery GCcv1 dropped 0.3 percent to $1,084.70 an ounce. The Fed will not need to see balanced risks to the economy to proceed with an interest rate hike in September, according to former Fed officials and a review of central bank statements through recent turns in policy. ID:nL1N10A24A In other metals, spot platinum XPT= and palladium XPD= were slightly weaker and not far off multi-year lows, while silver XAG= was steady. (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Anand Basu) ((manolo.serapio@thomsonreuters.com)(+632 841 8972)(Reuters Messaging: manolo.serapio.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net Twitter: @MannySerapio))

Keywords: MARKETS PRECIOUS/

Swiss central bank posts 50.1 bln Sfr first-half loss

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

ZURICH, July 31 (Reuters) - Switzerland's central bank posted a first-half loss of 50.1 billion Swiss francs ($51.79 billion) on Friday, after the strength of the franc against the euro inflicted hefty losses on its holdings of the single currency. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) stunned financial markets in January by abandoning its cap on the value of the franc versus the euro, but has continued to intervene in foreign exchange markets in a bid to weaken the franc. ID:nL5N0ZF18F Results showed this has come at a considerable cost to the central bank, which posted its biggest quarterly loss on record in April and warned its shareholders, which include the federal government and cantons, that it may mot be able to maintain its regular payout policy. ID:nL5N0W80E9 ($1 = 0.9674 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Joshua Franklin) ((joshua.franklin@thomsonreuters.com; +41-5-8306-7007; Reuters Messaging: joshua.franklin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: SWISS SNB/RESULTS

PRECIOUS-Gold heads for longest weekly losing streak in 16 years

July 31, 2015 - reuters.com

MANILA, July 31 (Reuters) - Gold hovered near 5-1/2-year lows early on Friday and is on course for a sixth straight weekly fall, its longest retreat since 1999, after strong U.S. economic data strengthened expectations for a near-term hike in interest rates. Bullion is also set to end July with its biggest monthly decline in more than two years after a deep rout last week further shook investor confidence, with more losses seen ahead. FUNDAMENTALS * Spot gold XAU= was up 0.1 percent at $1,088.86 an ounce by 0037 GMT, but not far above last week's trough of $1,077, its lowest since February 2010. It was down nearly 1 percent for the week and 7 percent for the month. * The metal hit a low of $1,081.85 on Thursday as the dollar climbed after data showed the U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent in the second quarter. First-quarter gross domestic product was revised to show growth of 0.6 percent instead of a contraction. ID:nL1N10A30U * That supported views that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as early as September, analysts say. The Fed meets next that month after concluding this week that the world's largest economy is "expanding moderately." * A potential hike in U.S. interest rates dims the appeal of non-interest bearing assets such as gold. * U.S. gold for August delivery GCcv1 was flat at $1,088 an ounce. * The Fed will not need to see balanced risks to the economy to proceed with an interest rate hike in September, according to former Fed officials and a review of central bank statements through recent turns in policy. ID:nL1N10A24A * Gold mining companies are turning increasingly to derivatives to lock in future revenues, as an industry still smarting from losing out on a 12-year bull run gets creative over protecting its income during the metal's current downturn. ID:nL5N10945H * India's gold jewellery exports could jump five times to $40 billion per year by 2020 if quality controls are tightened, the World Gold Council said, adding the country is punching below its weight due to questions over the purity of its products. ID:nL3N10A3HR * Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO agreed to sell 50 percent of its Zaldivar copper mine in Chile to copper miner Antofagasta Plc ANTO.L for $1 billion in cash. ID:nL1N10A3S3 * For the top stories on metals and other news, click TOP/MTL or GOL/ MARKET NEWS * Asian shares inched higher but were on track for a weekly loss, while the dollar edged away from highs scaled after U.S. GDP data reinforced expectations that the Fed is on track to raise interest rates this year. MKTS/GLOB DATA AHEAD (GMT) 0600 Germany Retail sales June 0645 France Consumer spending June 0900 Euro zone Inflation July 0900 Euro zone Unemployment rate June 1345 U.S. Chicago PMI July (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Richard Pullin) ((manolo.serapio@thomsonreuters.com; +632 841 8972; Reuters Messaging: manolo.serapio.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net Twitter: @MannySerapio))

Keywords: MARKETS PRECIOUS/

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