Morocco campaign to boycott US products in solidarity with Turkey

A Moroccan group on Facebook named “the national campaign to demand a real Islamic bank in Morocco” has launched a campaign to boycott US made goods and restaurants in response to Washington’s targeting of the Turkish currency and the US sanction against Turkey scheduled in the coming weeks.

The Turkish lira was trading sharply lower yesterday even after the country’s central bank announced measures to shore up the financial system amid warnings of a deepening crisis.

The lira fell by one fifth against the dollar last week alone.

Turkey’s economy has been under the threat of sanctions from the U.S. after President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this year that this would be a probable course of action if an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, was not freed from jail. Turkey has held the evangelist since 2016 on charges that he was involved in a failed coup attempt that year.

READ: Hope of improved US-Turkey ties helps lira rise against dollar

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Reports: India’s Crypto Regulations Delayed, Government Considers ‘Crypto Tokens’

Reports: India's Crypto Regulations Delayed, Government Considers ‘Crypto Tokens’

The Indian government previously planned to submit the proposal for crypto regulations in July. However, a senior official has revealed that the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in India has been delayed and will likely be ready by the year’s end. Meanwhile, the government is reportedly considering “launching crypto tokens for financial transactions.”

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Indian Regulations Delayed

Reports: India's Crypto Regulations Delayed, Government Considers ‘Crypto Tokens’
Subhash Chandra Garg.

The Indian government has been working on cryptocurrency regulations. A panel was set up in December last year under Subhash Chandra Garg, secretary in the department of economic affairs, to propose crypto regulations in India. The proposal was supposed to be ready in July and the regulations unveiled in September.

However, Quartz reported on Sunday, August 12, that a senior government official familiar with the panel’s discussions indicated that “now that ‘looks difficult’.”

The publication wrote, “India’s cryptocurrency regulations will likely come by end of 2018,” adding:

A finance ministry panel is still evaluating how to treat blockchain and cryptocurrencies separately.

The official explained to the publication that “there are lots of issues that need understanding and lots of studying needs to be done.”

The news outlet elaborated, “the key issue facing the panel is if regulations can be drawn up to push the use of blockchain independently” and quoted the official describing:

Blockchain is an interesting thing. We definitely want to milk it effectively for financial transactions. So all officials are really trying hard to understand how to separately use blockchain, without cryptocurrency…And understanding a new software takes time.

Indian Government’s ‘Crypto Tokens’

Reports: India's Crypto Regulations Delayed, Government Considers ‘Crypto Tokens’ On Friday, August 10, DNA India reported that the Indian government “is considering launching crypto tokens for financial transactions in the country, even as the existing ban on cryptocurrencies is likely to continue.”

While “crypto tokens are based on blockchain application,” the news outlet described that unlike cryptocurrencies, a “crypto token is a representation of money. It can’t be used in place of fiat money.”

The panel headed by Garg is also “studying the possibility of using various crypto assets, including cryptocurrency,” a senior official in the finance ministry explained and was quoted saying:

The committee is examining if crypto tokens can be used to replace smart cards such as metro cards in the public sector to start with. Similarly, in the private sector, it can be used in loyalty programmes such as air miles where its use is limited to buying the next ticket and can’t be converted into money.

While admitting that the new technology has a lot of promise, the publication noted that “Garg categorically denied allowing [the] use of cryptocurrency in any manner including in payment systems.”

When do you think India will finally come up with crypto regulations? What do you think of the government considering launching crypto tokens? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the Indian government.

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Phew! Turkey bashing takes a break for now

Tuesday August 14: Five things the markets are talking about

Tuesday sees a tentative reprieve for global equities in the wake of Turkey’s induced turmoil and the forex market has managed to stabilize a tad, aided by reports this morning that the Turkish Finance Ministry has scheduled an investor call for Thursday, Aug 16.

The ‘big’ dollar has managed to slip from its 15-month highs against G10 currency pairs as U.S Treasury prices ease as a degree of calm returns to Turkish markets – USD/TRY is down -4.75% at $6.5622.

Nevertheless, a sizable rate increase by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) followed by drastic measures to reduce the fiscal deficit still appears to be the most viable option to re-anchor the lira and pull the country’s economy from the brink. Currently, fixed income dealers are pricing in a +10% rate hike by the CBRT to stem the lira’s depreciation.

Is it economic suicide or attack? President Erdogan knows what needs to be done, but will he allow it? The U.S. has nothing further to negotiate until the detained American pastor is freed.

Elsewhere, crude oil has pared some of its recent losses, while gold finds a bid on a weaker dollar and BTC is again under pressure dropping below $6,000.

On tap: U.S retail sales data appears stateside tomorrow, followed by housing data on Thursday. In Brussels Thursday, Brexit talks between the E.U and the U.K resume.

1. Stocks mixed results on bargain hunting

In Japan, the Nikkei posted its biggest gain in five month after the Turkish lira pared some of yesterday’s losses. Export-driven firms benefited from a pause in the safe-haven yen’s (¥111.01) strengthening. The Nikkei share average surged +2.3%, while the broader Topix rallied +1.6%.

Note: Japanese trading volumes remain thin as many domestic investors are on holiday.

Down-under, Aussie shares closed firmer, supported by the financial and material sectors. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose +0.8% at the close of trade. The benchmark slipped -0.4% on Monday. In S. Korea, both the Kospi stock index and the won gained overnight, supported by recovering confidence after the Turkish turmoil. The Kospi closed up +0.47%.

In Hong Kong and China, stocks fell for a third consecutive session overnight, after data showed further signs of cooling in China’s economy and as trade war worries lingered. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell -0.7%, while the China Enterprises Index lost -0.2%. In China, the blue-chip CSI300 index fell -0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed down -0.2%.

Note: Overnight, China July data missed market expectations amid trade frictions – industrial production y/y, +6.0% vs. +6.3%e and retail sales y/y, +8.8% vs. +9.1%e.

In Europe, regional bourses have opened higher across the board as concerns over geopolitical issues, as well as improved outlook over Turkey is helping to support risk sentiment.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.3%).

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.4% at 3,246, FTSE +0.1% at 7,655, DAX +0.5% at 12,415, CAC-40 +0.4% at 5,432; IBEX-35 +0.2% at 9,550, FTSE MIB +0.4% at 21,047, SMI +0.4% at 9,0.42, S&P 500 Futures +0.3%

2. Oil edges up on Saudi output cut and Iran sanctions, gold higher

Crude oil prices are better bid this morning after Saudi Arabia said it had cut production in July. However, market concerns over a slowdown in global economic growth is capping prices for now.

Brent crude oil is up +50c at +$73.11 a barrel, while U.S light crude has gained +55c to +$67.75.

Saudi Arabia has told OPEC that it had reduced crude output by -200Kbpd to +10.29M bpd in July.

Note: Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s biggest producer and the only major exporter that can easily adjust output to balance global supply. A self-imposed cut in product would suggest that Saudi’s are keen to avoid a repeat of a global glut that has depressed prices over the past few years.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices are better bid, edging away from yesterday’s 18-month low print (+$1,191.25). Support is coming from a weaker U.S dollar and a break below some key psychological levels has triggered some technical buying interest. Spot gold is up +0.2% at +$1,195.51 an ounce. U.S gold futures are up +0.3% at +$1,202.50 per ounce.

3. Italian bond yields fall from two-month highs

Italian bond yields have pared some of yesterday’s sharp rise on reassuring comments from the government and as fears about contagion from Turkey has eased for now.

PM Conte and his top ministers discussed the 2019 budget yesterday – investors have been concerned that the government’s high-spending plans would lead to a further deterioration in Italy’s finances. However, the Italian government have agreed to preserve the “stability of state finances and lower public debt.”

Italy’s 10-year BTP yield has fallen – 7 bps to +3.03%, off two-month highs of +3.109% set yesterday, with its 5-year note yield down -6 bps at +2.32%.

Elsewhere, the yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries have backed up +2 bps to +2.89%, the largest gain in a week. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained +2 bps to +0.33%, the first advance in a week, while in the U.K, 10-year Gilt yield has also climbed +2 bps to +1.277%, the largest surge in almost a fortnight.

4. Indian rupee hits new all time low

Emerging-market currencies remain under pressure despite today’s TRY reprieve that Turkey’s Finance Ministry has scheduled an investor call for Thursday, Aug 16. Overnight, INR fell to new record low of $70.08 outright, retaining its position as one of Asia’s worst performing currencies this year. It’s believed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been trying to defend the $70 level by selling USD.

Note: The rupee has fallen -9.5% in 2018. Among other major emerging markets, only BRL, RUB and ZAR currencies have weakened more.

EUR (€1.1401) is trading above yesterday’s intraday low (€1.1367) after German Q2 GDP data suggested that the slowdown in Q1 was temporary. The single unit still faces resistance from Italian discussions on their 2019 budget. Italy Deputy PM Di Maio believes that Italy is not at risk of financial market attack.

GBP (£1.2783) saw its best levels of the session erode (£1.2809) despite its ILO Unemployment falling to its lowest level since 1975.

And cryptocurrencies are stung by ETF Delay – Bitcoin and ethereum continue to fall as reports from earlier this month that the application of a Bitcoin exchange traded fund has been postponed is keeping global institutional money on the sidelines. Bitcoin is down-3.6% to around +$6,035.

5. Eurozone avoids Q2 Slowdown, supported by German growth

Data this morning shows that Germany’s economic growth accelerated in Q2, guaranteeing the eurozone as a whole avoided a slowdown. Nevertheless, expect global trade tensions to cloud the outlook for businesses.

The Federal statistics office reported Germany’s GDP grew at a quarterly rate of +0.5%, or +1.8% in annualized terms. It also raised its Q1 growth estimate to an annualized +1.5% from +1.2% growth reported in May.

And because of Germany’s expansion, the agency has also raised its growth estimate for the eurozone as a whole to +1.5% in annualized terms from +1.4% reported in late July.

Forex heatmap

Ethereum Tumbles 17%, Investors Blame It On An ICO Sell-Off

In today’s crypto market drop-off, a majority of cryptocurrencies posted horrendous losses, including Ethereum, which fell further than many of its altcoin brethren. This came to the surprise of many, as Ethereum is normally a force to be reckoned with in ‘normal’ market conditions.

Ethereum Moves Under $300 For The First Time In 9 Months

Over its relatively short history, Ethereum has grown to become the 2nd most valuable cryptocurrency, becoming the platform of choice for cryptocurrency projects, and dApp developers.  Despite the fact that Ethereum has cemented itself as a leader in this flowering market, this has not made it vulnerable to devastating price crashes, such as the one seen on Monday.

As users turned on their computers on Monday morning, it quickly became apparent that something was amok, with the market reestablishing year-to-date lows. While Bitcoin already had it worse enough, it clearly became apparent that some cryptocurrencies were under-performing others. As the day continued, market conditions only worsened, with altcoins extending losses even further. Through all this, a common theme remained — Ethereum posted the highest percentage losses out of all of the cryptos in the top 10.

At the time of writing, Ethereum sits at a dismal $267, down 17% from today’s high of $320.  This is the first time ETH has ventured under $300 since November 2017, which was when the Bitcoin boom was just ramping up, and altcoins were starting to show some strength.

Chart Courtesy of TradingView

Over the past week, Ethereum has fallen by over 35%, while Bitcoin has ‘only’ posted a loss of 14%. This devastating move lower has rightfully led some to ask, “Why is the price of ETH performing so poorly?”

Investors Try To Reason Why ETH Is Capitulating So Heavily 

According to Bloomberg, a primary catalyst for this drastic decline is the high levels of selling pressure placed upon Ethereum by ICOs, as projects seek to liquidate their crypto war chests for fiat. According to Biswa Das, a founding partner at crypto hedge fund Bloomwater Capital, projects are cashing out to cover operational expenses and in fear that the market will continue lower. Das stated:

“These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market. It was fine last year but right now the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure.”

Das’ suspicions were seemingly corroborated by crypto analytics firm Santiment, who suggests that startups have spent upwards of 110,000 ETH over the past 30 days.

CNBC’s coverage of Ethereum’s tumble seems to confirm much of the same, with Meltem Demirors of Coinshares discussing this occurrence with Fast Money panelists. Demirors noted:

“Ethereum starting this narrative of being a decentralized computer, it shifted over to smart contracts as enterprises when getting more interested in this technology and then it became a substrate for ICOs to raise money with… So they held a lot of ether in their treasury… I think this is really what our ecosystem is struggling with — how do we allocate out of ETH into our assets that preserve value long term, and what should those be.”

While many investors believe that the worse has already arrived, Spencer Bogart of Blockchain Capital says “the pain” may be far from over, as there are still hundreds of thousands, if not millions of ETH that are ready to be sold en-masse on spot market exchanges.


Featured Image from Shutterstock

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Multiple Injured After Car Rams London Parliament Barriers In Terrorist Attack

Two people were injured when a car drove into security barriers outside the British parliament on Tuesday and the driver – a man in his 20s – was arrested, emergency services said, with counter-terrorism police leading the investigation into the incident which is being treated as a terrorist incident.

Television pictures from the incident showed armed police surrounding a silver saloon car that had hit heavy barriers outside St. Stephen’s Gate, the main public entrance to Parliament. Its hood was crumpled and its airbags had been deployed.

London’s Ambulance Service said it had treated two people for injuries at the scene and they had been taken to hospital. Neither of those hurt were believed to have suffered serious injuries and police said they were trying to piece together what had happened.

“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident,” the Metropolitan Police said in an emailed statement. The driver of the car, a man in his late 20s, was arrested on suspicion of terrorist offenses, the police said.

“While we are keeping an open mind, the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the investigation into the #Westminster incident,” London’s Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

Earlier, police said the male driver of the car had been arrested at the scene of the crash which occurred at 0637 GMT.

Quoted by Reuters, witness Jason Williams said the car had struck a barrier on a lane used for access to the parliament building with force. He said he thought it was deliberate.

“It’s a very serious incident,” he told reporters. “There was smoke coming from the vehicle.”

Images shot by a Euronews journalist showed police pointing their guns at a vehicle. Footage on social media showed a handcuffed man being led away by heavily armed police. Other footage showed a cyclist lying on the street.

“I saw the cyclists, injured cyclists. I’ve seen people, about 10, on the road, lying down, but I haven’t seen any fatalities,” Williams said.

Westminster Underground station, close to parliament, was closed to the public and the building cordoned off.

Parliament is in summer recess and most lawmakers are not using the building. Prime Minister Theresa May is on holiday abroad.

This is the latest attack on high profile London landmarks: in March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on nearby Westminster Bridge before he stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene. It was the first of five attacks on Britain last year which police blamed on terrorism.

Britain is on its second highest threat level of “severe”, meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.

Last week, a Muslim convert admitted plotting to kill more than 100 people by driving a truck into pedestrians on London’s Oxford Street, the capital’s major shopping thoroughfare.

In October last year, 11 people were injured when a car collided with pedestrians near London’s Natural History Museum, raising fears of an attack, but police later said the incident was a road traffic accident.

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Crypto Markets Hit Another 2018 Low, Is It The Bottom For Ethereum?

FOMO Moments

This biggest one day dump this year, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, EOS and Cardano dropping double digits

The crypto winter is getting colder as markets tanked yet again over night to a new 2018 low. Total market capitalization plunged below $200 billion and kept going to reach its lowest level since the end of October 2017.

Bitcoin briefly dipped below $6k once again and is holding the level just above it. With a loss of 6.5% on the day BTC is down to $6,050 and poised for further declines. Trade volume has dropped from $6.6 billion to just over $5 billion at the time of writing.

Ethereum has crashed, taking an epic nosedive of 17.5% to trade at $265. This puts it back to mid-2017 price ranges when sentiment was largely bullish. Over the past week ETH has shed 35% as its market cap dumped nearly $15 billion. From a July high of just over $500 Ethereum has crashed almost 50% marking its biggest decline since early January. Ethereum has not been this low since September 15 last year when it briefly dipped to $200. Many have blamed ICO projects for dumping ETH onto the market as all cryptos get pummeled. The dust may settle at around $200 which has been a strong support point for Ethereum in the past.

All altcoins are dumping once again with Cardano taking the biggest hit in the top ten of 19.4% on the day. Bitcoin Cash, XRP and EOS are not far behind with losses of 14-16%. The market cap chart has certainly been shaken up by the August rout which has continued unabated. In the top twenty there are four altcoins getting absolutely smashed with over 20% declines on the day. These include Tron, Iota, Neo and Binance Coin, the latter taking the biggest dump of 23%.

Not a single coin in the top one hundred is green at the moment, not even the stablecoins such as Tether, Dai and TrueUSD. The biggest loss has been suffered by Ark which is down almost 30% in 24 hours. There are nine other altcoins with an over 25% decline at the moment including Kucoin Shares, Bitcoin Private, Zilliqa, Icon, Augur, and 0x.

Total crypto market capitalization hit a new 2018 low of $189.6 billion a few hours ago marking a loss of $30 billion in just 15 hours. On the day they are down almost 12% which is one of the biggest one day dumps of the year. Currently market cap is at $193 billion with a daily trade volume of $15 billion. Things are still looking very precarious in crypto land.

FOMO Moments is a section that takes a daily look at the top 25 altcoins during the current trading session and analyses the best performing ones, looking for trends and possible fundamentals.

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Israel allows entry of construction materials into Gaza

Israel yesterday confirmed that it will allow the entry of 20 truckloads of construction material into the besieged Gaza Strip for the second day in a row.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that about 20 truckloads of cement and other construction materials will be transported through the Kerm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

Sources added that several trucks also passed through the crossing on Sunday.

READ: Closure of crossings damaging Gaza’s industrial, commercial sectors

Israeli policy often defines basic construction materials such as gravel, steel bars, and cement, along with a wide range of spare parts, computer equipment and vehicles as “dual use” items, restricting their import for “security reasons”, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Such designations as well as the strict blockade have destroyed the economy in the Gaza Strip and have made it near impossible for Gaza’s more than two million residents to recover from three wars over the last six years.

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Iran strengthens defence capabilities with new short-range ballistic missile

Iran yesterday revealed a new generation of short-range ballistic missile in a move aimed at strengthening the republic’s defence capabilities, local media reported.

Iranian Defence Minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, who revealed the new missile said: “As I had promised the Iranian nation, I will spare no effort to boost the country’s missile capabilities and we will certainly increase our missile power everyday” Iranian reported.

READ: US-Iran nuclear talks ease, ‘helping’ Yemen war end

“Nothing can stand in the face of this missile,” Hatami said, according to the semi-official news agency Tasnim, adding that the new version of Fateh-e Mobin was an “agile, radar-evading and tactical missile with pinpoint accuracy”.

Meanwhile, US officials told Fox News that Iran tested a Fateh-110 missile during naval exercises conducted in the Strait of Hormuz last week.

The Iron Dome, Israeli military systems which intercept missiles - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Iron Dome, Israeli military systems which intercept missiles – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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