Another week another Libor scandal as further details of other banks partaking in fixing are revealed, but this time it’s the usually squeaky clean Lloyds bank that’s at the heart of the accusations.
This is not news we didn’t know about and we can expect this to run and run as more fines will be handed out. The headlines will remain full of bad banking practices and poor judgement of a select few as the vote winning and populist bash a banker theme continues. There’s no question that the rules need to be tightened and the actions taken by people to fix rates in order to line their pockets are completely wrong, but there comes a point when the chastisement is enough and we are in danger of driving these major employers and huge tax contributors away from the UK.
The last few years has seen banks having to increase their capital buffers, adopt more regulations, suffer a seriously negative public perception and at the same time politicians have been screaming at them to lend more to businesses and individuals in a climate that is hardly conducive to investment. Some of these banks, if not all of them, will having already been weighing up their options and with the world of global finance so interlinked it wouldn’t take too much for a HSBC or a Barclays to say we’re off. There are plenty of places that would welcome them with open arms like Shanghai, Dubai or New York and whilst many people might say good riddance to them, we have to remember that our services based economy is heavily reliant on finance. Banking certainly needs a good clean up, but our major industries ought to be encouraged as opposed to continually berated.
The markets ended last week on a high and the Dow put in a very decent gain whilst sustaining its highs as well. After China's GDP came in on expectations and avoided the much rumoured collapse investors were encouraged that it hadn't fallen off a cliff whilst at the same time had dipped enough to keep the prospects of more stimulus very much alive. Also adding to the tide of positive sentiment were the earnings results from JP Morgan which sparked a strong recovery in financial shares. The buying frenzy spread to other sectors and the Dow rallied 204 points to close at 12,777.
This morning the FTSE is trading flat after an exciting first 5 minutes where futures opened lower than where we had expected before bringing the index back to around the 5660 level. After Friday’s strength we’re back towards the resistance levels of 5700/25, although still a little way off, but this remains the major hurdle for the index. To the downside 5600 is pegged in as the major near term support.
Once again the euro put in another 2 year low on Friday at 1.2163 but the bears were quickly swept aside and afternoon bounce saw earlier losses pared in moving into positive territory to close at 1.2247. The reversal in sentiment was triggered by a successful Italian bond auction but the general risk on mood added to the upward momentum. This morning EUR/USD is at 1.2235 not showing a huge indication that it wants to carry on higher, but Friday’s rally could just be the start of a bigger bear squeeze.
Gold rose on Friday, gaining $20 to close at $1588.1, as a general risk on mood descended on markets and weakened the demand for the dollar. Despite its gains however, gold posted its second weekly loss as the likelihood of a third round of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve looks ever more distant.
Crude oil futures gained on Friday as the US’s sanctions on Iran continue to press the supply disruption trade. Also adding to the gains was the general weakness in the dollar as other markets experience a strong risk on appetite. Missile tests by Iran have also added to the upward pressure on crude prices, but this morning things are just a little softer with Brent trading at 101.25.