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At the peaks seen earlier Wednesday, oil prices were not quite back at last week's highs, but with tensions in the Middle East and North Africa escalating, the market was targeting a move toward recent 30-month highs.

Dow +91.35 at 12109.98, Nasdaq +19.79 at 2703.66, S&P +6.16 at 1299.93

Commodities ended mixed on the session, with precious metals (+1.7%), energy (+0.6%), and industrials (+0.1%) all posting gains, while grains (-1%), softs (-0.9%) and livestock (-0.7%)all posted losses.
May crude oil rallied for 0.7% to close at $105.75 per barrel. Today's closing price marks crude oil's best in ~2.5 yrs.
Global unrest, including recent attacks in Israel, sent the precious metals higher in a flight to safety. April gold rallied for 0.7% to finish at $1438.00 per ounce, while May silver surged 2.5% to end at $37.19 per ounce.

US focus:Euro declines on debt-fund plan delay, Portugal

The euro slumped against most of its major counterparts as Portugal began debating a budget that may lead the government to fall and European leaders pushed back a decision on funding a regional bailout mechanism.
The 17-nation currency fell for a second day against the dollar before a Portuguese vote that may force the nation to an early election and bailout and reports the expansion of the European Union European Financial Stability Facility will not be decided until June.

The yen strengthened against most of its major counterparts as Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe, the U.S. and the Group of Seven are “ready” to act to curb the currency’s rise.
Demand for Japanese debt rose as radiation levels at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant hampered efforts to repair reactors.
The yen rose against most major currencies even after Jean- Claude Juncker said the Japanese currency is “slowly moving in the wrong direction”. The G-7 nations intervened March 18 to bring the currency down from a postwar high.
Juncker also said March 21 his “personal guess” is that the EFSF would be decided in June and would increase guarantees. The decision won’t be made by the end of this week’s meeting of policy makers, Reuters reported citing a draft document.
“Portugal has been on the radar screen, but the statement that was most damaging is that the EFSF was put off to the end of June,” said Steven Englander at Citigroup Inc.. “Everything we heard and seen for the last three months was telling us that everything would be wrapped up this weekend and now it’s not.”
The pound fell against all its major counterparts after the Bank of England minutes showed policy makers voted 6-3 to keep rates steady on March 10.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the British economy will more grow more slowly this year than previously forecast.
The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts annual growth in 2011 of 1.7 percent, down from the 2.1 percent forecast in November, Osborne said.

PORTUGAL: President preparing to call elections
PORTUGAL: President ready to accept PM's resignation
USD/JPY weakens

USD/JPY easing lower, trades near Y80.80 area, a bit higher the overnight low at Y80.70. Bids were mentioned in place from Y80.80 to Y80.60. There is a risk of tight stops under the overnight low. Below there, Y80.50 a focus, bids said in place but with stops in place below.


Spot gold is trading at $1439.25/oz, on the high side of the day's $1426.20/$1.440.90 range. The precious metal is back at two-week highs, but has not yet tested the life-highs of $1444.40, seen March 7. Initial resistance is found at the life highs, with the daily Bollinger top at $1446.90. Beyond that, additional resistance is seen at the November 9 resistance line at $1456.60. Support comes in at the 5-day moving average at $1424.

USD/CAD holds below highs

USD/CAD holds C$0.9820 as the dollar back off from earlier high at C$0.9843 where further stops are seen. Canadian budget vote due later this week, does not have opposition support and thus could see a vote of no confidence that, if passed, would lead to general elections.

Dow -32.21 at 11986.42, Nasdaq -18.66 at 2665.21, S&P -7.32 at 1286.45

Financials, now down 1.2%, continue to trade with the worst loss of any major sector. Bank stocks have been the biggest burden for the financial sector; the KBW Bank Index is currently down 1.4%.
Materials stocks are down only 0.1%. Newmont Mining (NEM 54.45, +1.28) is a leader in that space for the second straight session.

BNP Paribas on EUR

Andy Chaveriat, chief technical analyst at BNP Paribas, sees the "current dollar rally is not a shift in the larger dollar downtrend". He suggests using pullbacks in the euro to the $1.4100/$1.4050 as a dollar selling opportunity. Buying the euro the first target comes at $1.4220 then owards $1.4282 major resistance.

US: Mar 18 wk EIA oil data: crude stocks +2.1m to 352.8m bbl.
Dow -31.60 at 11990.09, Nasdaq -15.95 at 2668.95, S&P -8.18 at 1286.20

New home sales for February fell to an annualized rate of 250,000 from the prior month's upwardly revised rate of 301,000.
The lower-than-expected tally is close to a record low and has caused stocks to pull back from a recent upturn. The broad market now sits at its morning low.
Declining Sectors: Financials (-1.1%), Utilities (-0.8%), Consumer Discretionary (-0.8%), Telecom (-0.6%), Health Care (-0.6%), Industrials (-0.5%), Energy (-0.5%), Materials (-0.5%), Tech (-0.4%), Consumer Staples (-0.3%).

US: Feb new home sales -16.9% to record low 250k
Before the bell:

U.S. stocks were poised for a flat start Wednesday, as investors remained nervous about the spreading unrest in the Middle East region and Japan's recovery efforts.

Economy: Investors will get February new home sales figures from the Census Bureau at 14:00 GMT. Economists are looking for 288,000 annualized units for February, up slightly from 284,000 units in January.
The government's weekly report on crude inventories will also be released after the opening bell.
Companies: Before the bell, General Mills (GIS) said its fiscal-third quarter earnings rose 18%. The cereal maker, which raised prices in October, said it expects strong earnings growth in the fourth quarter.
Shares of homebuilder PulteGroup (PHM) rose 5% in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs raised its price target on the stock.
Bank of America (BAC) shares slid 1.7% premarket. The bank said in that it would need to revise its dividend plan after the Fed objected to the company's original proposal.
Oil for May delivery, which became the front-month contract Wednesday, gained 42 cents to $105.39 a barrel.
World markets:

Gold futures for April delivery rose $5.50 to $1,433.10 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 3.30% from 3.33% late Tuesday.

UK OSBORNE: Corporation tax to be cut by 2% from April
  • Corporation tax to fall by 1% in each next 3 years;
  • Will raise bank levy to offset corporate tax cut.
UK OBR: Raises UK Q4 2012 CPI forecast to 2.5% from 1.9%
UK OSBORNE: There will be no Budget give away
  • Budget measures will be fiscally neutral;
  • Unemployment to peak this year.
European session:

The pound weakened as minutes of the Bank of England’s March 10 showed fewer dissenting policy makers calling for an interest-rate increase than some investors predicted.
Policy makers voted 6-3 to keep rates steady on March 10 and saw “merit in waiting” to assess the effect of higher oil prices on the economy, the Bank of England minutes showed.
“There was some hope that another voter could go for a rate hike this month,” Nomura’s Kendrick said. “There is some disappointment that it was still a 6-3 split.”
The euro, dollar and yen were little changed versus each other.
The franc appreciated before a Portuguese vote that may push the nation to an early election and European bailout, boosting demand for the safest assets.
EU leaders are divided over how to let the euro-region stopgap fund spend its full capacity of 440 billion euros ($624 billion) to ease credit woes as a March 24-25 summit approaches. Policy makers have settled on a permanent rescue fund able to lend 500 billion euros as of 2013.

EUR/USD: rose back above $1.4200 and triggered stops through $1.4205/10 eventually reaching $1.4215. before falling back to the session low. Offers now seen placed to $1.4220, with stronger interest noted from above $1.4240 and option related interest between $1.4250/70. Barrier noted at $1.4250 and $1.4275. Main demand remains at $1.4150/40.
GBP/USD: fell to $1.6265.
USD/JPY: traded withinY80.70-Y81.00.

US data starts at 1400GMT, when the pace of new home sales is expected to rise to a 290,000 annual rate in February after sharp movements in the previous two months. The pace of home sales remains well below its year ago level, even this far into the recovery. The weekly EIA Crude Oil Stocks data then follows at 1430GMT.

European shares edged higher on Wednesday

But some investors remained cautious ahead of a key parliamentary vote on austerity measures in Portugal that could see the country's government brought down, and others were focused on the continued political uncertainties in the Middle East and North Africa.

EUR/JPY tech comments

Cross has rallied strongly back from the earlier floor at Y114.21 and breaking in to offers now through Y115.00. Rate has matched the Asian session high at Y115.03 and faces further supply at Y115.30, ahead of Y115.50/55.

Sources: EU decision on how to increase effective capacity of EFSF to E440bln to be taken only by end-june.
EUR/USD back above $1.4200

Moves back above $1.4200 and triggered stops through $1.4205/10 eventually reaching $1.4215. Offers now seen placed to $1.4220, with stronger interest noted from above $1.4240 and option related interest between $1.4250/70. Barrier noted at $1.4250 and $1.4275. Main demand remains at $1.4150/40.

BINI SMAGHI: Keeping ECB rates so low is very expansionary
FTSE +25 +0.43% 5,788, CAC +21 +0.54% 3,914, DAX +19 +0.28% 6,800
EMU Jan sa industry new orders +0.1% m/m, +20.9% y/y
Option expiries for today's 1400GMT cut:

EUR/USD $1.4175, $1.4200, $1.4225, $1.4250 
USD/JPY Y80.00, Y80.25, Y81.00, Y82.00, Y82.50, Y82.55
EUR/JPY Y113.45, Y111.55
GBP/USD $1.6150
AUD/USD $1.0100, $1.0000, $0.9980
AUD/JPY Y84.00
EUR/AUD A$1.3800
NZD/USD $0.7435, $0.7480
USD/CAD C$0.9970

BOE MPC votes 6,3 to maintain Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at stg200 billion.

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee again split four ways at its March meeting, with one member voting to extend quantitative easing, six voting for unchanged policy, two for a 25 basis point rate hike and one for a 50 bps increase. The minutes of the Mar meeting showed that while the vote on the MPC was unchanged from Feb, the committee was wrestling with the new shocks of a sharp rise in oil price and developments in the Middle East and North Africa. The minutes said some MPC members believed the case for a rise in Bank Rate had risen.

Asian session: The euro declined

The euro declined for a second day against the dollar on concern European Union leaders meeting this week will struggle to find a permanent solution to the region’s fiscal crisis.
The single currency weakened versus 13 of its 16 major counterparts on speculation Portugal’s government will collapse today as parliament votes on budget cuts that have divided lawmakers. 
The pound was about 0.2 percent from the strongest level in a year against the greenback before the Bank of England releases minutes of this month’s policy meeting.
The pound climbed for a third day against the euro on speculation accelerating inflation will prompt the U.K. central bank to raise interest rates.
U.K. consumer prices increased 4.4 percent in February from a year earlier, the most since October 2008, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.

EUR/USD: the pair shown low in the field of $1.4150.
GBP/USD: the pair bargained within the limits of $1,6340-$ 1,6380.
USD/JPY: the pair decreased in around Y80,80.

EMU data includes industrial orders for January at 1000GMT.
UK data dominates European releases with the Bank of England minutes and also BBA data. 
US data starts at 1100GMT with the weekly MBA Mortgage Application Index. US data continues at 1400GMT, when the pace of new home sales is expected to rise to a 290,000 annual rate in February after sharp movements in the previous two months. The pace of home sales remains well below its year ago level, even this far into the recovery. The weekly EIA Crude Oil Stocks data then follows at 1430GMT. 

Forex: Tuesday's review

The euro fell for the first time in three days against the dollar as investors speculated Europe’s leaders will struggle to find a permanent mechanism to the regions debt crisis.
EU finance chiefs settled yesterday on a permanent rescue fund to lend 500 billion euros ($712 billion) as of 2013, while remaining divided over how to get the current stopgap fund to its full capacity. Work thrashing out a solution to the region’s credit woes is due to culminate at a March 24-25 summit of European leaders.
The euro earlier touched a five-month high against the greenback after European Central Bank Executive Board member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell and Governing Council member Yves Mersch both said yesterday that “strong vigilance” is necessary to keep a lid on inflation.
New Zealand’s dollar was the best performer against the dollar. The International Monetary Fund said the nation’s central bank may need to raise rates “relatively quickly” once the economy begins to recover. 
The pound rose, as inflation data bolstered the case for the Bank of England to increase rates.
Consumer prices rose 4.4% in February from a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics, higher than the 4.2% median forecast of economists.

EUR/USD: the pair decreased in around $1.4200.
GBP/USD: the pair become stronger in around $1,6380.
USD/JPY: the pair bargained within the limits of Y80,80-Y81,30.

EMU data includes industrial orders for January at 1000GMT.
UK data dominates European releases with the Bank of England minutes and also BBA data. 
US data starts at 1100GMT with the weekly MBA Mortgage Application Index. US data continues at 1400GMT, when the pace of new home sales is expected to rise to a 290,000 annual rate in February after sharp movements in the previous two months. The pace of home sales remains well below its year ago level, even this far into the recovery. The weekly EIA Crude Oil Stocks data then follows at 1430GMT. 

Stocks: Tuesday's review

Japanese stocks rose, sending the Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average to its biggest two-day advance since April 2009, as the country made progress in stabilizing reactors at a crippled nuclear plant.
The Topix lost 7.6 percent this year through March 18, compared with a gain of 3.2 percent by the S&P 500 and a drop of 1.3 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant which was damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, soared 16 percent.
Toshiba Corp., a nuclear reactor supplier, surged 13 percent.
JX Holdings Inc. rose 12 percent as its refining unit resumed operations.
Nippon Steel Corp., Japan’s largest maker of the alloy, leapt 7.1 percent.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s largest bank by market value, advanced 8.3 percent. The country’s equities markets were closed for a public holiday yesterday.
Advantest Corp., the world’s biggest maker of machines used to test memory chips, surged 9.8 percent to 1,449 yen, advancing the most since March 2009, after the Nikkei newspaper said it will buy Verigy Ltd. for 74 Billion yen ($913 million).

European stocks retreated for the first time in four days as Irish and Greek bonds sank amid concern European Union leaders will struggle to solve the region’s debt crisis.
Banco Espirito Santo SA (BES) led a selloff in Portuguese banks, falling more than 2.5 percent. Parmalat SpA (PLT) sank the most since 2008 amid speculation that Groupe Lactalis’s purchase of a 15 percent stake reduces the chance of rival bids.
Metro AG (MEO) dropped 4.7 percent after the retailer said the outlook for economic growth may be curbed, posing a risk to forecasts.
Parmalat dropped 7.1 percent to 2.29 euros. Lactalis said it will buy out a group of shareholders, removing activist investors from a battle for control of Italy’s biggest dairy company. The French company agreed to acquire 15.3 percent of Parmalat owned by Mackenzie Financial Corp., Skagen AS and Zenit Asset Management AB, boosting its stake to 29 percent.
Swatch Group AG (UHR) advanced 2.2 percent to 395 francs after watch exports in Switzerland rose 17.8 percent in February, according to the Federal Customs Offices. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the world’s largest jewelry maker, advanced 3.3 percent to 51.8 francs.
Petropavlovsk Plc (POG) advanced 3.1 percent to 1,046 pence. The gold producer in Russia said proven and probable ore reserves increased by 36 percent to 9.1 million ounces of gold following a successful exploration program.
Kuoni Reisen AG fell 4 percent to 418.5 Swiss francs after the travel company said bookings as of March 13 were 7 percent below the year-earlier level in francs and the same as the year- earlier level in local currencies.

After three days of rallying to reclaim pre-Japan earthquake levels, U.S. stocks slipped back into the red on Tuesday. Fatigued investors took a step back and considered lingering problems in Japan and across the Arab world.
Investors refocused their attention on Tuesday on rising oil prices amid increasing political turmoil in North Africa and continuing violence Libya and Yemen.
Oil for April delivery rose $1.67, or 1.6%, to settle at $104 a barrel. May delivery will become the front-month contract after the close of trading, and it's already the most active contract -- rising more than $1.88, or 1.8%, to settle at $104.97 barrel. Earlier, prices topped $105 a barrel.
Economy: The Federal Housing Finance Agency's home price index fell 0.3% in January, following a 1% drop the prior month.
Companies: Late Monday, news reports revealed that Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) had sued Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) in California federal court. In the complaint, Apple asked a judge to block Amazon from using the term "Appstore." Three years ago, Apple was granted a trademark on its own "App Store." Shares of Apple were up 0.6%, while Amazon's stock fell 1.1%.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY, Fortune 500) was a strong gainer on the S&P 500. Shares were up 1% on heavy volume, after the company said an experimental drug extended the survival of previously untreated skin cancer patients.
A 6.6% drop in shares of Walgreens (WAG, Fortune 500) dragged on the S&P 500 -- despite the drugstore chain posting a 10% jump in fiscal second-quarter profit Tuesday morning, driven by prescription sales and a later onset to the cold and flu season.
Shares of Netflix (NFLX) gained 4%, after Credit Suisse boosted its rating on the movie rental company. Netflix was the biggest gainer on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Tech on USD/JPY

Resistance 3:Y82.50 (Mar 14 high) 
Resistance 2:Y82.00 (Mar 15 high) 
Resistance 1:Y81.10 (session high, МА (200) for Н1) 
Current price: Y80.88
Support 1:Y80.60 (Mar 21 low)    
Support 2:Y79.80 (Mar 17 high)    
Support 2:Y78.25 (Mar 17 intraday low)    
Comments: the pair on former bargains in a narrow range. The nearest support - Y80,60. Below losses are possible to Y79.80. The nearest resistance - Y81.10. Above growth is possible to Y82.00. 

Tech on USD/CHF

Resistance 3: Chf0.9250 (50,0 % FIBO Chf0,9370-Chf0,8920)
Resistance 2: Chf0.9090 (Mar 18 high, 38,2 % FIBO Chf0,9370-Chf0,8920)
Resistance 1: Chf0.9040 (resistance line from Mar 18)
Current price: Chf0.9029
Support 1: Chf0.8960 (Mar 17 low)
Support 2: Chf0.8920 (Mar 16 low)
Support 3: Chf0.8900 ( psychological mark)
Comments: the pair Bargains in former frameworks. The nearest support - Chf0.8960. Below loss can may extend to Chf0.8920. The nearest resistance - Chf0.9040. Above is located Chf0.9090.

Tech on GBP/USD

Resistance 3: $ 1.6500 (psychological mark)
Resistance 2: $ 1.6460 (high of 2010)
Resistance 1: $ 1.6400 (Mar 22 high)
Current price: $1.6360
Support 1 : $1.6340 (session low)
Support 2 : $1.6290 (Mar 22 low)
Support 3 : $1.6200 (Mar 21 low, Mar 14 high)
Comments: the pair bargains in the field of the high reached yesterday. The nearest support $1.6340. Below is possible testings of around $1.6290. The nearest resistance $1.6400. Above growth is possible to $1.6460. 

Tech on EUR/USD

Resistance 3: $ 1.4320 (resistance line  from Jul 2008)
Resistance 2: $ 1.4280 (Nov 5 high)
Resistance 1: $ 1.4250 (Mar 22 high)
Current price: $1.4177
Support 1 : $1.4140 (Mar 21 high)
Support 2 : $1.3980 (support line from Mar 11, МА (200) for Н1)
Support 3 : $1.3920 (support line from Jan 10)
Comments: the pair decreased. The nearest support $1,4140. Below losses are possible to $1.3980. The nearest resistance - $1.4240. Above growth is possible to $1,4280. 

Schedule for today, Wednesday, Mar 23 2011:

09:30 UK  BoE meeting minutes (09-10.03)  
10:00 EU(17) Industrial orders (February) 1.2% 2.1%
10:00 EU(17) Industrial orders (February) Y/Y 21.5% 18.5%
14:00 USA New home sales (February) 290K 284K
23:50 Japan Trade balance (February) unadjusted, trln 0.897 -0.471

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