Prime News: Bitcoin Rises above $11, 000 Mark Tue, 20 Feb 2018 02:18:00 +0200

Bitcoin gained for the fourth consecutive day, continuing a rally that started when it rebounded from a technical support level.

The largest cryptocurrency by market value increased 11 percent to $11,200 in New York. The gain brought its rise to 57 percent since February 6, when it started rallying from a 200-day moving average, according to Bloomberg's data. Bitcoin outperformed its rivals, including Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin, which rose by less than 4 percent.

The currency last closed above $11, 000 on January 29.

After a steep decline in January erased around half a trillion dollars from the market valuation of around 1,5 000 cryptocurrencies monitored by CoinMarketCap, majority found a support level in mid-February. The developments coincided with statements issued by many analysts and market observers that were perceived to be tacit acceptance that the digital assets would not be regulated out of existence.

But until regulators have a better oversight on the market, digital currencies will still have to fight for mainstream acceptance in the finance sector, S&P Global Ratings said.

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Prime News: BoE’s Governor says Bitcoin Failed as a Currency Tue, 20 Feb 2018 01:53:00 +0200

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said that bitcoin has failed to live up to the standard of a benchmark currency and is neither a store of value nor a useful way to purchase items.

He said that bitcoin did not meet the requirements of the traditional aspects of money. He added that nobody uses it as a medium of exchange.

However, he said that the digital currency's underlying technology may still prove to be useful as a way to verify financial transactions in a decentralized manner.

The BOE governor also said that, in order to make the UK's exit from the European Union in March 2019 as smooth as possible, British regulators are looking to give financial institutions “the benefit of the doubt, beyond the last minute.”

The sterling pound's movements were mostly driven by financial speculation over Brexit and he said that British and European negotiators were working hard to clinch a transitional agreement before the end of March.

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Prime News: RBA Outlines Steady Path for Rates on Tepid Inflation, Wage GrowthTue, 20 Feb 2018 01:41:00 +0200

Australia's central bank outlined a steady course for rates at its first meeting of 2018 this month, and indicated an acceleration in wage growth was needed to guarantee a much-needed recovery in inflation.

Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's January meeting showed policy makers had become more confident about the domestic outlook, due in part to a synchronised upturn in the global economy.

However, the RBA needed to balance tepid inflation and slow income growth against high household debt, meaning interest rates were set to be at record lows for a while yet.

The RBA has left rates at 1.50 percent since August 2016, the longest spell of stable policy since the early 1990s. That had helped in reducing the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent and bringing inflation closer to its 2-3 percent target band, minutes of the meeting showed.

Recent showed Australia's streak of employment gains hit the longest on record in January, while unemployment slightly dropped to 5.5 percent. Figures on retail sales also suggested that the weakness in household consumption seen since early-2017 had not continued into the December quarter.

In addition, government spending on public infrastructure had boosted non-mining business investment and was likely to support economic growth for some time. As a result, the RBA forecast gross domestic product growth to average “a bit above 3 percent” over the next couple of years.

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Prime News: World Stocks Poised to Post First Loss in Five Days as U.S., China Market ClosedTue, 20 Feb 2018 00:46:00 +0200

World stocks were set to post their first loss in five days on Monday, breaking a winning streak that saw them recover nearly half their losses from a violent sell-off two weeks ago.

In a day of relatively quiet trading due to market holidays in the United States and China, losses in Europe weighed on stocks globally, which had earlier been lifted by gains in Japan.

European markets had opened positive, setting up the MSCI world index for its sixth day of gains. However, by afternoon, the pan-European STOXX index had declined more than half a percent.

A weak update from Reckitt Benckiser added pressure on the consumer staples sector, offsetting gains among financials and strength in steel makers after the U.S. outlined proposals for hefty import curbs.

The MSCI world index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, fell 0.1 percent. The index has recovered almost half what it lost between late January and last week's low. The 4.3 percent gain it posted last week was its best weekly performance since December 2011.

January's two-week rout, fuelled by worries about a rise in U.S. inflation, had wiped over $6 trillion off the value of global stock markets.

The sell-off took place despite global growth was helping to improve the corporate earnings outlook.

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Prime News: European Markets Declined Amid Light Trading VolumesTue, 20 Feb 2018 00:34:00 +0200

Equities in Europe ended lower Monday afternoon amid weak volumes, and as investors priced in new earnings reports.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.66 percent with all sectors except oil and gas in negative territory, having declined throughout the day. The sluggish volumes were due to markets being closed in the United States, as well as Greater China and Mumbai.

Household goods was the worst performing sector, down 1.36 percent. Reckitt Benckiser posted higher fourth-quarter sales and improved its expectations for 2018 after going through tough times recently, according to a news report by Reuters. However, analysts see only a moderate potential for operating margin growth. As a result, the stock closed the day's trading at the bottom of the European benchmark, down 7.5 percent.

Autos dropped 1.29 percent. It was under pressure throughout the day by news that carmaker Daimler may have used software to cheat in diesel-emission tests in the U.S. Bild cited internal documents from U.S. investigators. Daimler shares fell more than two percent.

Also down by more than one percent was the healthcare sector, which ended trade negatively to the tune of 1.22 percent.

Deutsche Bank was the best performing banking stock, finishing the session rising more than two percent after Bank of America Merrill Lynch improved its outlook on the stock and its target price.

Reckitt Benckiser Group plunged 7.5 percent as the maker of Lysol, Clearasil and other consumer products posted flat like-for-like 2017 sales, although that was line with guidance that had been revised downward over the course of the year.

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RBA Minutes: Steady Growth Continues For Australia Economy Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:30:00 +0200

Members of the Reserve Bank of Australia's Monetary Policy Board said that the country's economy was continuing to expand as expected, minutes from the bank's February 6 meeting revealed on Tuesday.

The economic data, both in Australia and among its major trading partners, has been broadly positive, the bank added.

The inflation outlook remains steady for the near term, although the bank noted that an appreciating exchange rate could slow CPI growth.

"In considering the stance of monetary policy, members noted that the flow of data since the previous meeting, for both the international economy and Australia, had been generally positive. Conditions in the global economy had continued to improve," the minutes said.

At the meeting, the RBA maintained its benchmark cash rate at 1.50 percent. The bank had reduced the rate by 25-basis points each in August and May last year.

Taking account of the available information, the RBA judged that holding the stance of monetary policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time.

The bank hinted that interest rates are unlikely to rise anytime soon. The low level of interest rates is continuing to support the Australian economy, RBA said.

"Financial market pricing suggested that market participants expected the cash rate to remain unchanged during 2018, but had priced in a 25 basis point increase by early 2019," the minutes said.

Further progress in reducing unemployment and having inflation return to target is expected, although this progress is likely to be gradual, the bank observed.

The RBA pointed out the outlook for household consumption as one continuing source of uncertainty. Household incomes are growing slowly and debt levels are high.

"Domestically, business conditions had improved over 2017 but growth in consumption had continued at a relatively modest pace, constrained by low household income growth despite stronger-than-expected employment growth and a decline in the unemployment rate over 2017," the minutes said.

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ARGENTINA: Merval Rises 1.90% Without Wall Street Guidance Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:48:00 +0200

Merval, the main index of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, rose 1.90% to 33,298.28 points Monday, boosted by corporate results in a day in which the market traded without the guidance of Wall Street due to a holiday in the United States.

Analysts from Puente said that the Merval had recovered half of the correction that began on January 29 in the international markets, when Argentinean stocks lost 14% at the lowest point.

PGR (2.31%) agreed on Monday to up to US$ 120 million of capital expenditures that will be directed to shale gas and oil projects in Vaca Muerta, in the Neuqu?n Basin, during 2018.

Meanwhile, Ternium Siderar (-2.76%) reported to the National Securities Commission (CNV) the advance of its consolidated financial results for 2017, when it posted a net result 9,164,520 million pesos.

Also Monday, bank workers began a 48-hour strike after bankers presented a wage increase proposal way below inflation. Banco Franc?s' shares lost 3.31%, while Banco Galicia fell 0.78%.

Holcim (+5.20%) reported that the board approved the acquisition of 160,000 shares of Geocycle, representing 2% of the company's capital.

The locally traded U.S. Dollar rose 1.09%, closing at 19.90 Argentinean pesos, amid lower volume due to the U.S. holiday. The bank workers strike launched in Argentina also influenced, said an analyst at ABC Mercado de Cambios.

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*RBA Minutes: Australia Economy Growing As Predicted; Inflation Outlook Steady Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:34:00 +0200

RBA Minutes: Australia Economy Growing As Predicted; Inflation Outlook Steady

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COLOMBIA: Colcap Trades 0.18% Lower Amid Thin Trading Volume Mon, 19 Feb 2018 23:26:00 +0200

Colcap, the main index of the Colombian Stock Exchange, fell 0.18% near the end of Monday's session to 1,517.49 points amid a thin trading volume derived from a holiday in the United States. David Santos, an analyst at Compass Group, pointed to the absence of foreign capital inflows.

The shares of Cemex (+1.40%), EEB (+0.74%), Cemargos (+0.38%), Corficolombiana (+0.24%), and Sura (+0.21%) were up, while ETB (-1.77%), Preferencial Bancolombia (-0.81%), Avianca (-0.66%), and Ecopetrol (-0.20%) moved lower.

The locally traded U.S. dollar closed the day at 2,848.90 Colombian pesos, marking a 0.27% rise. Wilson Tovar, an analyst at Acciones & Valores, noted that the greenback started the week with a slight devaluation as market volatility decreases as a result of the holidays in the United States and China.

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BRAZIL: Stocks Rise As Economic Activity Data Surprises Investors Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:45:00 +0200

Ibovespa, the benchmark stock market index in Brazil, rose 0.32% Monday to 84,792.71 points, boosted by positive economic activity data. Expiring options helped to offset the adverse effect of a U.S. holiday on trading volume.

According to Vitor Suzaki, an analyst at Lerosa Investimentos, the Brazilian central bank index of economic activity in December rose more than expected and encouraged investors.

According to the partner of DNAinvest, Leonardo Ramos, the lack of external interference caused the Brazilian market to continue its "natural" path of a slight increase.

Markets also ignored the potential halt to the pension reform bill in the House of Representatives. According to Ramos, investors gave up on expecting a pension reform this year.

Gerdau shares increased 5.02%, enjoying a late boost from the last week news that the US Commerce Department wants to add barriers to steel imports.

"Gerdau would benefit from this because it produces there and can gain market," said Ramos.

Fibria shares rose 3.51%, and Suzano stocks advanced 3.22% on market expectations with talks are being held on a possible combination of assets.

The locally traded U.S. dollar ended up 0.43%, at R$ 3.236, in a trading session marked by lower liquidity due to a holiday in the United States. With few fluctuations throughout the day, the appreciation was influenced by the external market, where the greenback rose against currencies amid the absence of significant indicators.

For Tuesday, Ramos expects that the Ibovespa will continue rising. For Suzaki, the release of the minutes of the last FOMC meeting may bring volatility to the market.

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