GBP/USD – British pound edges higher, investors eye UK job numbers

The British pound has recorded slight gains in the Monday session. In North American trade, the pair is trading at 1.3266, up 0.24% on the day. On the release front, British Rightmove HPI surprised with a decline of -0.1%, its first decline since December. In the U.S, core retail sales dropped to 0.4%, matching the estimate. Retail sales dropped to 0.5%, edging above 0.4%. On Tuesday, BoE Governor speaks before the Treasury Select Committee, and the U.K will release wage growth and unemployment rolls. In the U.S, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee.

The U.S economy is firing on all cylinders and received a vote of confidence from the head of the Federal Reserve. On Thursday, Powell said that the economy is “in a really good place”, pointing to President Trump’s massive tax cut scheme and increased spending as key factors in boosting economic growth. Powell did not address monetary policy and said he was uncertain as to the effects of the current trade disputes which has embroiled the U.S and its trading partners. The Fed will likely press the rate trigger in the second half of the year, but it is an open question as to whether we’ll see one hike over the next six months. The Fed is projecting growth of 2.8% in 2018, compared to 2.3% in 2017. Powell will be in the spotlight next week when he appears for his semi-annual testimony before Congress.

Trade policy is not part of the Federal Reserve’s mandate, but Fed policymakers continue to voice concern about the escalating trade war between the U.S and its major trading partners, particularly China. On Friday, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he would have to downgrade his outlook if the tariff battle continues. Kaplan said that U.S tariffs on steel and aluminum imports had dampened capital expenditures plans and further trade tensions could lead to currency fluctuations and geopolitical instability.

As the Brexit deadline creeps ever closer, both sides are making contingency plans for a ‘hard Brexit’, in the event that the parties fail to reach an agreement. On Thursday, the British government released a white paper, which is a blueprint for trade arrangements with the EU when Britain leaves the club in March 2019. The proposal suggests that the UK and the EU will enter into an “association agreement”, which maintains current agreements with regards to goods but not services. This could have a significant negative impact on London’s financial hub, which is already facing the loss of hundreds of financial jobs from London to the continent. Prime Minister May is facing strong opposition from hardliners in her cabinet, who argue that the white paper leaves the EU too much control over British trade policy and could hamper British trade deals. Will the Europeans buy what May is selling? EU policymakers are reviewing the white paper and if it is rejected, investors could get panicky and send the pound lower.

  Trade ,earnings ,teapots and the US dollar

China Q2 GDP growth as expected, though lower than Q1

 

GBP/USD Fundamentals

Sunday (July 15)

  • 19:01 British Rightmove HPI. Actual -0.1%

Monday (July 16)

  • 8:30 US Core Retail Sales. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.4%
  • 8:30 US Retail Sales. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.4%. Actual 0.5%
  • 8:30 US Empire State Manufacturing Index. Estimate 20.3. Actual 22.6
  • 10:00 US Business Inventories. Estimate 0.4%

Tuesday (July 17)

  • 4:00 BoE Governor Mark Carney Speaks
  • 4:30 British Average Earnings Index. Estimate 2.5%
  • 4:30 British Claimant Count Change. Estimate 2.3K
  • 4:30 British Unemployment Rate. Estimate 4.2%
  • Tentative – British NIESR GDP Estimate
  • 9:15 US Capacity Utilization Rate. Estimate 78.4%
  • 9:15 US Industrial Production. Estimate 0.5%
  • 10:00 US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell Testifies
  • 10:00 US NAHB Housing Market Index. Estimate 69
  • 16:00 US TIC Long-Term Purchases. Estimate 34.3B

*All release times are DST

*Key events are in bold

 

GBP/USD for Monday, July 16, 2018

GBP/USD July 13 at 10:25 DST

Open: 1.3235 High: 1.3293 Low: 1.3224 Close: 1.3266

 

GBP/USD Technical

S1 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.3088 1.3186 1.3263 1.3494 1.3613 1.3712

GBP/USD posted small gains in the Asian and European sessions. The pair is showing little movement in North American trade

  • 1.3263 has switched to a support level after gains by GBP/USD on Monday. It is a weak line
  • 1.3494 is the next of resistance
  • Current range: 1.3263 to 1.3494

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.3263, 1.3186, 1.3088 and 1.2996
  • Above: 1.3494, 1.3613 and 1.3712

EURUSD still depends on dollar sentiment

EURUSD still depends on dollar sentiment

BRENT CRUDE OIL TVC:UKOIL


EURUSD             declined last week after three weeks of gains. The pair looks neutral on Monday, changing hands around the 1.17 threshold, which serves as the key barrier for short-term buyers. USD index looks quite stable, but has started the week mainly on the back foot, which raises a chance for a more sustainable rebound in the single currency.

The general sentiment around the greenback remains the key river for the pair. As trade-war fears have abated somewhat, the overall sentiment in the global financial markets remains cautious, which supports safe-haven USD demand. In the short term, US June retail sales data will be in market focus. Should the numbers disappoint, the euro             could regain the 1.17 mark and target the 1.1760 area which comes as the intermediate resistance on the way to 1.18. As long as the price remains below this barrier, downside risks will prevail.

As the broader picture shows, EURUSD             remains within a bearish trend , and there is a risk of a decline towards the lows around 1.15 as the buck could regain the impetus due to trade-war jitters and further “hawkish” signals from the Fed down the road.

USD/CAD- Canadian dollar subdued as U.S retail sales within expectations

The Canadian dollar is almost unchanged in the Monday session. Currently, USD/CAD is trading at 1.3145, down 0.07% on the day. On the release front, Canadian Foreign Securities Purchases dropped sharply to C$2.18 billion, well short of the estimate of C$7.03 billion. This marked a 5-month low. In the U.S core retail sales dropped to 0.4%, matching the estimate. Retail sales dropped to 0.5%, edging above 0.4%. 

In the U.S, the focus is on consumer spending reports, with both retail sales and core retail sales expected to drop to 0.4%. On the manufacturing front, Empire State Manufacturing Index is forecast to drop to 20.3 points. On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair will testify before the Senate Banking Committee and Canada releases Manufacturing Sales.

The U.S economy is firing on all cylinders and received a vote of confidence from the head of the Federal Reserve. On Thursday, Powell said that the economy is “in a really good place”, pointing to President Trump’s massive tax cut scheme and increased spending as key factors in boosting economic growth. Powell did not address monetary policy and said he was uncertain as to the effects of the current trade disputes which has embroiled the U.S and its trading partners. The Fed will likely press the rate trigger in the second half of the year, but it is an open question as to whether we’ll see one hike over the next six months. The Fed is projecting growth of 2.8% in 2018, compared to 2.3% in 2017. Powell will be in the spotlight next week when he appears for his semi-annual testimony before Congress.

Trade policy is not part of the Federal Reserve’s mandate, but Fed policymakers continue to voice concern about the escalating trade war between the U.S and its major trading partners, particularly China. On Friday, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he would have to downgrade his outlook if the tariff battle continues. Kaplan said that U.S tariffs on steel and aluminum imports had dampened capital expenditures plans and further trade tensions could lead to currency fluctuations and geopolitcal instability.

  Trade ,earnings ,teapots and the US dollar

China Q2 GDP growth as expected, though lower than Q1

Monday (July 16)

  • 8:30 Canadian Foreign Securities Purchases. Estimate 7.03B. Actual 2.18B
  • 8:30 US Core Retail Sales. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.5%
  • 8:30 US Retail Sales. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.4%
  • 8:30 US Empire State Manufacturing Index. Estimate 20.3
  • 10:00 US Business Inventories. Estimate 0.4%

Tuesday (July 17)

  • 8:30 Canadian Manufacturing Sales
  • 9:15 US Capacity Utilization Rate. Estimate 78.4%
  • 9:15 US Industrial Production. Estimate 0.5%
  • 10:00 US Federal Reserve Jerome Powell Testifies
  • 10:00 US NAHB Housing Market Index. Estimate 69
  • 16:00 US TIC Long-Term Purchases. Estimate 34.3B

*All release times are DST

*Key events are in bold

USD/CAD for Monday, July 16, 2018

USD/CAD, July 16 at 8:35 DST

Open: 1.3157 High: 1.3167 Low: 1.3137 Close: 1.3145

USD/CAD Technical

S3 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.2831 1.2970 1.3067 1.3160 1.3292 1.3436

USD/CAD posted small losses in the Asian and  European sessions. The pair has posted slight gains early in the North American session

  • 1.3067 is providing support
  • 1.3160 was tested earlier in resistance. It remains a weak line
  • Current range: 1.3067 to 1.3160

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.3067, 1.2970 and 1.2831
  • Above: 1.3160, 1.3292, 1.3436 and 1.3530

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law Enforcement

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law Enforcement

When the indictment of Russian intelligence officers for interfering with the US election broke, the recriminations were swift. Not only had the 12 allegedly hacked the Democratic National Committee, but they’d had the temerity to do so using servers paid with cryptocurrency. When politicians and mainstream media began finger pointing, they had only one culprit to blame – bitcoin.

Also read: Russia Now Has a Registry of Whitelisted Crypto Companies

Bitcoin is Tried and Convicted in the Court of Public Opinion

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II wasted no time in castigating the “crypto industry” for its role in the DNC hack. The fact that Russians had apparently used bitcoin to cover their tracks was of more concern than the numerous other failings that the indictment revealed, like the inability of Democrats to detect basic phishing attempts, or of DNC admins to detect the X-Agent malware that was installed. No, the biggest takeaway from all this was that bitcoin had facilitated one of the gravest nation state-orchestrated crimes in years.

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law Enforcement

As the detailed indictment against the Russian dozen reveals, however, bitcoin didn’t exactly enable the accused to cover their tracks. In fact, despite the extraordinary lengths they had gone to, bitcoin left an indelible trail that led right back to Russia, which the blockchain had gift-wrapped and handed to US investigators. The dozen accused purchased BTC on P2P exchanges, as well as mining the cryptocurrency themselves to pay for web hosting of dcleaks.com, and a VPN with which to operate the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account. But this didn’t stop US officials from reconstructing the attackers’ every move, aided by the permanent record that the blockchain provides.

Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cognitive Dissonance

Chainalysis is a blockchain forensics company that is detested by many bitcoiners for its willingness to work hand-in-glove with law enforcement, helping to convict cryptocurrency users of victimless crimes such as the purchase of narcotics for personal use. Its co-founder, Jonathan Levin, despatched a trademark anti-bitcoin soundbite for CNBC, stating: “The fact that cryptocurrencies are global and real time means that you might only find out about these things after the fact. We need to think about the responsibilities that we all have in a world where payments move seamlessly across borders in the blink of an eye.”

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law Enforcement
Wired

Meanwhile, Wired, a publication that once mined 13 BTC and then inexplicably destroyed the wallet, issued a typical hit piece against bitcoin in its reporting of the hack. It began: “Bitcoin is a pain to spend. It is energy-guzzling, perilously slow and, with the prospect of dazzling returns (at least until recently), perhaps best to HODL ‘til you retire. But Bitcoin can count at least one group of spendthrifts among its users: Russian hackers accused of hacking in the 2016 election.”

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law Enforcement

Wading through the hyperbole, one could be forgiven for thinking that bitcoin had single-handedly phished John Podesta, hacked the DNC, brought down the Democrats, and swung the election for Trump.

Is Bitcoin a Help or a Hindrance to Criminals?

Bitcoin is Great for Criminals. It’s Even Better for Law EnforcementAnyone reading MSM reporting of the event, or the screeching from various congressmen, may have been left confused as to bitcoin’s role in the DNC hack. Did it enable Russian agents to commit the crime or did it enable law enforcement to catch them? The answer lies somewhere in between. There is no doubt that bitcoin is used by criminals. It’s been used to purchase all sorts of things that from a legal, if not a moral, standpoint are illicit. Like all currencies, bitcoin is also used for money laundering.

Whether bitcoin helps or hinders criminals depends, to a large extent, on the nature of the crime. If you’re buying a bit of weed on the deep web, even the most zealous of Chainalysis apparatchiks isn’t going to concern themselves with tracing your transaction. Law enforcement won’t give a damn either. If you’re perpetrating the most notorious hack of the decade, however, too right you’re gonna have your BTC purchases forensically analyzed. Had the Russian hackers used a stolen Paypal account or disposable Visa to go shopping, law enforcement would have had much less data to go on, and would have encountered greater difficulty in reconstructing the hackers’ actions.

To answer the question then, bitcoin is a pretty good tool for committing low level crime, where a basic degree of anonymity is required. But when it comes to committing major crimes that are sure to be scrutinized, not only is bitcoin bad for criminals – it’s downright dangerous.

Do you think bitcoin is a help or a hindrance to criminals? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Twitter.


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UAE-backed Haftar in takeover of Libya’s oil ports

Officials from the United Arab Emirates have been involved in secret talks with renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar to facilitate the export of oil outside of UN-approved channels, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal has revealed.

Haftar’s forces moved to take control of several ports in the country’s oil crescent last month, cutting off exports of some 850,000 barrels a day. This pushed the price up to $80 a barrel to be exported through a breakaway company, which the UAE is alleged to have supported.

The move caused widespread concern internationally, with the US, Britain, France, Germany and Spain vowing to take action against any effort to sell Libyan oil from any outlet other than the National Oil Corporation of the UN-backed government in Tripoli.

Whilst the UAE publicly supports UN resolutions, its backing of Haftar has been attributed to the desire to bolster the Libyan commander as an alternative to the Islamist forces in the region, which are thought to be backed by Qatar and Turkey. Forces loyal to Haftar battled with east Libya warlord Ibrahim Jadhran for control of the ports last month; they handle more than 80 per cent of the country’s oil exports.

UAE government officials have attempted unsuccessfully to facilitate independent oil sales through Emirati companies for the past two years, Libyan, Emirati and European officials have said, but support from the Emirates has emboldened Haftar to attempt to cut out the National Oil Corporation. However, after international pressure, Haftar relented last week and handed over the management of the ports to the Corporation, which subsequently resumed export operations.

Read: Libya’s Haftar had lengthy meeting with Israeli intelligence officer

The move came after US President Donald Trump allegedly sent a strongly-worded letter to Libyan officials, criticising the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aqailah Saleh, and the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez Sarraj, for being unable to solve the crisis. In the letter, Trump reportedly warned both Libyan officials that they could face international prosecution as a first step, to be followed by threats of force if the issue was not resolved.

The UAE is known to have provided direct political and financial backing to General Haftar on multiple occasions since 2014. Leaked emails from UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaiba and seen by MEMO have indicated that his country has purchased weapons from North Korea and delivered them to Haftar’s forces, violating the UN sanctions in operation on both countries. The UAE is also believed to be establishing an airbase in the east of the country, according to a UN team of experts.

A report last month also suggested that the UAE is funding candidates in Libya’s election who support Haftar. The country is preparing for the election later this year under the auspices of the UN. Emirati officials have reportedly held many meetings in Egypt, Tunisia and Oman to assess the possible candidates based on their opinion of the military commander.

After Libya was divided in 2014, Haftar emerged gradually as the dominant figure in the east aligned with a regional parliament and government, and in opposition to the internationally-recognised government in the capital, Tripoli.

The UN and human rights groups have repeatedly accused forces loyal to Haftar of carrying out mass executions in Libya. A UN report has also detailed how he has been providing military support for Sudanese rebel groups since his armed forces took control of Al-Jufra and Brak Al-Shati in Libya.

Read: Libya’s Sharara oilfield cuts output after workers abducted

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There Is An Increase In Awareness And Usage Of Bitcoin In Canada

There has been a significant increase in awareness and usage of Bitcoin (BTC) among Canadians. This is according to a report released by the country’s central bank. According to the survey, ownership of bitcoin in the country has more than doubled over the last one year. The Bank of Canada carried out the survey, dubbed Bitcoin [BTC] Omnibus Survey [BTCOS] so as to understand whether there was an increase in the adoption and usage of the currency.

Results of the survey

2,500 people participated in the Bitcoin Omnibus Survey which was conducted in December last year. At the time, Bitcoin had hit its highest price, trading at around $20,000. In the survey, the Bank of Canada found that 5% of the people in the country had bitcoin in 2017. This is an increased from 2.9% of the population who held bitcoin in 2016.

Additionally, according to the survey, there is a general increase in knowledge and awareness about Bitcoin. The survey shows that 85% of the people in the country had knowledge about the coin by the end of 2017. This is an increase from the 64% of the population who were aware of the coin at the end of 2016.

Investment in Bitcoin increase

According to the survey, there is an increase in the number of people who view bitcoin as an investment. In fact many cited this as the main reason for owning bitcoin. Initially, bitcoin was seen as an instrument of transaction. 58% of those interviewed said they own bitcoin because they believe prices will go up. In 2016, only 12% owned bitcoin with hopes of price increase.

Peer pressure and the Fear of Missing (FOMO) are also to major drivers of the adoption of bitcoin. 12% of the respondents said they own bitcoin because their friends own bitcoin.

However, bitcoin holding among Canadians is still very low as 32% of the respondents own less than 0.1 BTC and 34% have less than 0.05 BTC.

The Bank has justified its reasons for having keen interest in cryptocurrecies, indicating that it is only interested in exploring the effects it has to the economy and the financial system.

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Egypt parliament approves granting citizenship in exchange for financial deposit

The Egyptian parliament has approved a controversial draft bill which allows granting Egyptian citizenship to foreigners in return for a financial deposit.

The bill, introduced by the Egyptian government, allows foreigners residing in Egypt to obtain Egyptian citizenship in exchange for a deposit of at least EGP 7 million ($391,000) or its equivalent in another foreign currency over five years.

Last year the Egyptian government introduced a draft bill which gave the interior minister absolute power to determine the amount of money to be deposited as well as conditions for applying for the Egyptian citizenship in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, which stipulates that citizenship is the birth right of anyone born to an Egyptian man or woman.

Egypt: Bank manager flees with $10m from bank coffers

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Bitcoin stuck in limbo

Bitcoin stuck in limbo

Bitcoin / Dollar BITFINEX:BTCUSD


BTCUSD             had a viable weekend, with the pair has appreciated and thus has trimmed its weekly losses. Nevertheless, the coin remains stuck in limbo, being shut in a limited range of $6,000-$6,400 for the last six days. The market obviously lacks fresh catalysts and headlines to stage a more vivid movement in either direction.

The digital currency returned most of its previous July gains last week, mainly due to some negative comments by prominent names and another exchange hack. Besides, US authorities arraigned twelve Russian officials for using the virtual currency in interfering with the 2016 elections. All these developments derail the buyers’ attempts to push the price of bitcoin             out of the boring range.

Technically, the coin shows some signs of bullishness as the price remains reluctant to get below the $6,000 key immediate support. Therefore, should the upcoming week doesn’t bring fresh negative developments and headlines, BTCUSD             could try to challenge the $6,400 region which has been limiting the recovery attempts since last week.