At the beginning of the week stock markets worldwide extended the tumble recorded the previous Friday. Then after a few days dominated by a declining trend, ECB President Mario Draghi declared that the central bank is “ready to do whatever it takes” within its mandate to preserve the single currency and the tensions on the markets eased. Regional markets were mostly down with Saudi bourse bucking the trend. The euro made gains last week while the dollar advanced against the yen. Gold prices hit a 3-week high on Draghi’s statement while oil prices rebounded.
Another week, another EU Summit. Bundeskanzlerin Merkel in a TV interview asserted that support to EU periphery without strong conditions and control over the use of resources is out of question. More concerns about faltering economic growth led to strong dip in global stocks while in the Middle East some markets were helped by strong corporate earnings results. The euro has oscillated wildly against the dollar and especially after Merkel’s remarks, fell sharply - closing last week at a two-year low against the dollar and at the lowest against the yen since 2001. Oil prices continue to increase on tensions in the Middle East while gold prices edged up on Fri but posted a weekly loss.
The EU Summit bank recapitalisation deal led to a much needed boost in global equity markets. Though regional markets were mixed, the Presidential election results in Egypt led to a surge in the Cairo exchange. Following the EU Summit outcome, the euro recorded its biggest daily gain in the past eight months, oil prices increased and so did gold, with the latter posting its biggest gain in 6 months.
The elections in Greece allayed fear of disruptive events, but left open all the unsolved issues that beset the governance of Euroland. Global equities were hit by Moody’s downgrade of 15 of world’s biggest banks in addition to weak data across the board. Regional markets were mostly down, on global cues, weaker oil prices, and as the region continued to be affected by bad news including MSCI not reclassifying UAE and Qatar and the delay in announcing Egypt’s election results. The dollar gained against the euro; the yen and pound tumbled and most Asia currencies dropped, with the rupee hitting record lows. Crude oil prices picked up from the 18-month low while gold prices tumbled, as last week witnessed its biggest one-day decline since end-Feb.
Inventories of cardio tonic drugs on trading floors must have been depleted, in one of the most feverish weeks in quite a while. The equity market roller-coaster was driven primarily by contradictory news on rescue plans for Spanish banks and expectations of more monetary stimuli in both the US and Eurozone. This was followed by the G7 teleconference, the Chinese rate cut, statements by Draghi and Bernanke, pressure from the US on Germany and the umpteenth downgrade for Spain. The S&P scored on Wed its biggest one-day percentage gain of 2012 and the following day China’s surprise cut sparked another rally in global stock markets, with investors confident that Beijing will ride to the rescue of a global economy. Then Bernanke poured cold water on QE3. The oil price reflected these wild gyrations, ending near the lowest since Oct 2011 year and almost 25% below the high in Feb. Gold lost its shine slightly after Bernanke’s testimony. The Euro overall fell and the Yen rebounded once again.
Disappointing data across the board - US jobs, growth concerns in China and India - added to the existing fears of a global slowdown and sent equity markets sliding. Ireland’s positive vote on the EU fiscal compact was the only cheerful note for European markets. Regional markets were no different with most markets down with the exception of Oman (it hit a 3-week high after Bank Nizwa’s IPO and almost 11 times oversubscribed). The euro hit a 23-month low against the dollar and fell to its weakest in more than 11 years against the yen (safe haven). Crude oil prices are the lowest since Oct 2011 as worries about weaker global demand led prices tumbling down while gold price rose as investors flocked to safe-haven assets.
The long Greek journey into the night continues to send shock waves throughout the markets (with additional input from Spain’s Catalonia, after Bankia’s bail-out, needing help to refinance its debts and ongoing banking sector troubles) which have been highly volatile around a downward trend driven by entrenched risk aversion. Regional markets were mixed, with Egypt’s exchange gaining the most amongst its counterparts on domestic elections. The euro hit a 2-year low against the USD on worries about a collapse in Greece and an exit from the euro zone. Oil slumped and gold has lost its allure as a safe haven.
It was a dismal week for equity investors with all regions affected by the ongoing Greek drama and Spain sub-plot as even the Facebook IPO received only a muted response. Regional markets were not spared either, with Tadawul closing near a 3-month low on Saturday. While the euro continued to be battered, the Indian rupee continues to slide to record lows given its burgeoning current account and fiscal deficits alongside withdrawals by foreign funds. Among commodities, gold was one of the gainers, posting its biggest weekly gain in a month, while crude oil prices slipped.