U.S. Dollar Inches Down Ahead of Fed; Yuan in Focus as Trade Talks Begin
The U.S. dollar edged down on Wednesday in Asia as investors await the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision due later in the day.
The central bank is expected to leave its key federal fund’s rate target unchanged at 2.25% to 2.5%. On Tuesday, the Conference Board, a business research group, said the U.S. consumer confidence index dropped to 120.2 in January, an 18-month low, from 126.6 last month. The reading was below economists’ forecast for a reading of 124.7.
The U.S. dollar index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies last traded at 95.450 by 11:09 PM ET (04:09 GMT), down 0.1%.
Meanwhile, the USD/CNY pair fell 0.2% to 6.7139 as China’s Vice Premier Liu He is set to begin trade talks with U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, in Washington today.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan reference rate 6.7343 on Wednesday vs the previous day’s fix of 6.7356.
The AUD/USD firmed 0.6% to 0.7195 after quarterly inflation data showed a slight acceleration.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is due to meet next Tuesday. The central bank had kept interest rates at a record low of 1.50% for the past 26 meetings. Yesterday, RBA board member Ian Harper said the next move in rates was “likely to be higher”
Deutsche Bank – take profits from pound rally after Brexit parliament vote
Deutsche Bank said it will take profit from its recent recommendation to sell the euro and buy sterling, turning neutral on the British currency following the parliamentary vote on its divorce from the European Union overnight.
The pound fell sharply overnight amid fresh concerns about the possibility of a “no-deal” after lawmakers voted against an amendment aimed at preventing a chaotic departure from the bloc. Last week, it hit its highest since October.
In a note to clients following last night’s voting, Deutsche Bank strategist Oliver Harvey said now’s the time to lock in profits from the recent run-up.
It is more likely the clock runs down to the March 29 deadline, with lawmakers forced into approving Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal under the threat of a crash no-deal Brexit, he said.
“As well as increasing the risk of a crash Brexit by accident, it should not be positive for economic confidence which (…) is already deteriorating due to political uncertainty,” he said.
“We consequently take profit from our short EUR/GBP recommendation from two weeks ago and turn neutral on sterling.”
Stock Market News
Apple’s stock is ‘cheap’ but the iPhone maker needs a ‘killer’ app or product soon
- Apple’s stock is “cheap” for now, says King Lip of Baker Avenue Asset Management
- Lip discussed the need for Apple to innovate, highlighting that the company needs “some sort of a killer app or killer product” in the next 12 months
- Apple reported earnings for its fiscal first quarter on Tuesday, which came in largely in line with expectations
Apple’s stock is “cheap” at the moment, but the iPhone maker needs to innovate in order to return to strong growth, according to one analyst who spoke to CNBC on Wednesday after the company reported earnings that were largely in line with expectations.
“The stock is cheap, I mean, it’s selling at low multiples,” King Lip, chief strategist at Baker Avenue Asset Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.
“The reason why we think it’s selling at low multiples, frankly, is because the growth of the company is slower,” he said. “It does appear and very clear to us that, you know, Apple’s historic robust double-digit growth is behind the company and at least in the short-term, it doesn’t appear that there’s any catalyst to turn them around.”
Lip’s comments came after Apple released its fiscal first quarter earnings after-hours on Tuesday.
The earnings were reported under a new structure, offering gross margin figures for its services and products segments and withholding unit sales numbers for its most popular products, such as the iPhone. The new structure, announced in November, was intended to shift focus from the iPhone to other growth metrics.
Apple slashed its guidance for the quarter earlier this month, citing weaker than expected iPhone sales and a weakening economy in China.
CEO Tim Cook acknowledged in the post-earnings conference call that customers are “holding on to their older iPhones a bit longer than in the past.”
As sales of its iPhone slows, the company has attempted to shift investors’ focus toward its fastest growing segment: services. The company reported Tuesday that it has 900 million iPhones in active usage.
“If the company can’t leverage off of that, you know, management … needs to be replaced. I mean, 900 million iPhones, there’s a lot of services that can sell through that,” Lip said, citing examples such as Apple Pay and Apple Music.
Beyond that, he added, Apple needs to innovate. “We really need some sort of a killer app or killer product coming from Apple in the next … six to 12 months.”
This view was echoed by Daniel Flax, senior research analyst at Neuberger Berman, who spoke to CNBC ahead of the earnings release.
“The Apple Watch, the AirPods, these demonstrate that Apple is actually continuing to innovate and we think that’s critical to ultimately creating value for their customers and of course their shareholders over the medium term,” Flax said.
Highlighting the need for Apple to “constantly reinvent itself,” Flax said: “We like the stock here, we think they’ve additional value that the management team can create over the next couple of years.”
Nissan CEO eyes first talks with new Renault chairman on Thursday
Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa is aiming to hold his first face-to-face discussion with new Renault SA Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard on the sidelines of an alliance meeting in the Netherlands on Thursday, NHK reported.
“I want to use the opportunity as much as possible to talk with him,” Saikawa told reporters on Wednesday in footage aired on the Japanese public broadcaster.
A Nissan spokesman was not immediately available to comment.
The regular alliance meeting for Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp will be the first attended by Senard since he replaced Carlos Ghosn as chairman of the French automaker last week.
Ghosn was indicted in Japan for financial misconduct and removed from his roles at the three automakers, threatening the future of the partnership he transformed into a global industrial giant over two decades.
Ghosn is awaiting trial in a Tokyo jail, where he has been incarcerated since his arrest in November.
New Zealand Cryptopia Exchange Hack Continues
Two weeks after it first reported a hack, New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia is still compromised by cyber criminals, according to a blog post from blockchain infrastructure firm Elementus on Jan. 29.
The exchange suspended services after detecting a major hack that reportedly “resulted in significant losses” on Jan. 15. Cryptopia stated that the hack occurred the previous day on Jan. 14. The platform initially stated that it was undergoing unscheduled maintenance, issuing several brief updates before disclosing the breach.
On Jan. 20, Elementus reported that as much as $16 million worth of Ethereum (ETH) and ERC20 tokens were stolen. Per the blog, data on the Ethereum public blockchain indicates that funds began to be siphoned from Cryptopia’s two core wallets — one holding ETH, the other tokens — on the morning of Jan. 13.
In today’s post, Elementus says that the attack is continuing and that hackers have stolen 1,675 ETH ($175,875) from 17,000 Cryptopia wallets, accumulating at this address. It further states that among the 17,000 affected wallets are 5,000 which were emptied when the platform was first breached, but have since been refilled.
Elementus says that it was apparent that the same hacker or hackers are responsible for the continued security breach, as the funds have been transferred to the address used in the initial hack. Both aforementioned addresses on Etherscan have been flagged for their involvement in the hack and the site has warned that the public should proceed with caution when interacting with the addresses.
The blog concludes that Cryptopia does not have control over its Ethereum wallets, while the hacker still does. Some in the crypto community have noted that this is not a second attack on Cybertopia’s wallets, but a continuation of the hack. One individual on Twitter said:
“The nature of the compromise is, the attacker stole their ETH privkey and deleted [Cryptopia’s] copy. Same hack, just new histrionic-newsable point to steal your attention if you never learned the basics of how private keys work.”
Yesterday, a report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis stated that two hacker groups have reportedly stolen $1 billion in cryptocurrency. According to a report shared with the Wall Street Journal, two entities have received the majority of money lost in cryptocurrency scams.
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