By Greg Peel
The Dow closed down 33 points or 0.3% while the S&P was flat at 1410 and the Nasdaq gained 0.1%.
After having run up a hundred points on Friday night, last night the Dow did no more than drift about in a sea of uncertainty. Apple's win over Samsung boosted its shares, leading to a stronger Nasdaq and a flat S&P close. Jackson Hole is not until the end of the week, so this is probably what we'll see for the next few sessions. No volume, no direction.
The president of the German central bank has again voiced his objection to ECB bond purchases, through an interview in Der Spiegel. This is not new news, but it was about the only news out of Europe last night. London was closed last night for the Bank Holiday, only adding to the lack of action, and meaning there are no changes to base metal prices today.
There are, however, changes to oil prices.
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As Tropical Storm Isaac sweeps across the Gulf meteorologists are having a hard time predicting exactly where it will make landfall. This week sees the seventh anniversary of Katrina, so the South has swung into full precaution mode. Around 70% or more of Gulf oil and gas production has been shut down and workers evacuated. Next to be shut down will be the coastal refineries and therein lies the rub.
The US gasoline futures price is understandably rallying. The likelihood of a release of oil from the US Strategic Reserve is building. But last night Brent crude fell US$1.33 to US$112.26/bbl and West Texas fell US46c to US$95.69/bbl. While threats of a strategic release are enough to put a lid on the crude price, the reality is that if the refineries shut down, they are not buying crude. In other words, demand drops.
This reality actually makes the Strategic Reserve an impotent tool in this instance. If there is a global crude supply shock, through war or sanction, then the Reserve is handy to have. But in this domestic instance the issue is gasoline and not oil, and there is no strategic reserve of gasoline. The Administration could release oil as a political ploy ahead of the election, but a release would have little impact on gasoline prices, and thus may even backfire as a tactic.
The US dollar index was flat last night at 81.68 and gold lost US$6.60 to US$1663.90/oz. The Aussie nevertheless remains under pressure and is down 0.4% to US$1.0369 since Friday after being declared as overvalued from all corners. As to whether the Aussie can fall much lower is debatable given its high yield, AAA attraction for foreigners.
The SPI Overnight closed flat.
Today in Australia sees new home sales figures for July and David Jones ((DJS)) will release its June quarter sales data. On the earnings front, Aristocrat ((ALL)) and Flight Centre ((FLT)) are among the highlights.
It could be a very slow week.
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