Dollar at 14 month high
The US dollar has hit a 14 month high this morning as investors consider the greenback to be a better bet than other currencies. Weak data from Japan has hit the yen, now at its weakest for six years against the dollar. The euro continues to flag and the usually-strong pound is lower on uncertainty over a potential break-up of the UK if Scotland votes for independence next week. European shares saw some early recovery after a bumpy ride yesterday and Asian markets have been mixed although Tokyo, Shanghai and Sydney all saw gains; Hong Kong and Seoul were both closed for public holidays. US markets ended Monday mixed and futures are broadly flat this morning although gold and oil are seeing gains as prices fall.
Barnes and Noble report before the opening bell with Krispy Kreme among those reporting after the markets close.
Oil and gold prices fall
When tension in the Middle East and Ukraine first emerged there was increasing concern over oil supplies but that appears to have been premature. Not only has supply from Iraq in particular not been affected, there is an oversupply of oil globally. The developed world is generally using less oil, the US is producing more and emerging economies have reduced their demand. All of this has led to the price of a barrel of crude falling below the $100 mark yesterday; the first time it’s been that low for 16 months. There are predictions that we could see another 10 per cent drop in the next few months, possibly down to around $70 a barrel. Gold is also suffering a fall in prices as investors sell in favor of dollars.
As Apple prepares its launch, the tech sector is under fire in Europe
Tech investors and geeks are beside themselves with excitement this morning as we await the latest product launch event from Apple. The promise of two new iPhones, wearable technology and maybe some surprises is causing palpitations but it’s not all plain sailing for the sector. Antitrust issues are among the challenges for US tech giants operating in China but increasingly in Europe too. Google is once again in the firing line from the European Union; it wants changes to be made to the search algorithm and now a German official wants the company to be broken up. Facebook, Uber, Amazon and Apple have also found certain aspects of their European operations under scrutiny.
Retailer confirms cyber attack
Home Depot in the US and Canada has confirmed a breach of data following its announcement last week of some ‘unusual activity’. The retailer says that its payment systems have been compromised and although there is no evidence of payment card PIN numbers being stolen, there is a chance that customers who used cards to pay at Home Depot since April this year could be affected in some way. The company says it does not yet know the full extent of the data breach and is offering customers who may have been affected identity protection and credit checking services free of charge. This is the latest in a series of cyber attacks targeted at retail and finance businesses and while the ones that make the headlines are large firms, SME’s should be aware of the risk to even the smallest businesses. As large companies invest in stronger defences, criminals could well switch their focus to smaller and generally weaker operations. Read the full story.