The prices of copper, silver and oil have seen huge falls in recent days on the commodity markets, while the dollar just had its best two days since October 2011. Meanwhile, it has been a case of down, up and down again for the euro.
Paul Sommerville, of Sommerville Advisory Markets, explains what has been going on in the currency and commodity markets. Mr Sommerville says that as the stock markets have become very quiet, the commodity, bonds and foreign exchange markets have been hugely volatile. The big falls in copper and silver yesterday was due to the dollar effect, he states. Over the past year the dollar has been strengthening and has actually strengthened about 25% against the euro - which is good news for Ireland. But in the last three to four weeks, the euro has recovered by about 9%. As the dollar goes up, commodities come down and as the dollar recovered yesterday, big falls in oil, gold and silver prices were seen, the consultant said.
Describing the oil price changes as "fascinating" in recent months, Mr Sommerville says the changes are due to Chinese demand and what is going on at OPEC as well as the currency factors. Prices had fallen from over $100 a barrel to about $45, before they rallied to sit just above $60. OPEC are due to meet next week and Mr Sommerville says he expects the organisation to say that it will not reduce production, which will keep the pressure on oil prices. One of OPEC's goals - even though the organisation will never say it - is to run the shale gas guys out of business in the US, he explains. OPEC continues to increase production of oil, even though the price is falling and Mr Sommerville said he expects that trend will continue.
MORNING BRIEFS - Britain's biggest clothing retailer - which also sells homewares and food - Marks & Spencer has reported its first rise in annual profit in four years and said it would return excess cash to shareholders. M&S said today it made a profit before tax and one-off items of £661.2m in the year to the end of March. That is its first rise in profits in four years.
*** Total Produce says trading for the first four months of its financial year has been satisfactory. In a statement ahead of its AGM today the Irish fresh fruit and vegetable distributor says it's in a strong financial position and continues to pursue attractive acquisition opportunities to further expand the group.
*** Britvic, the maker of Robinsons squash and Tango, posted a 6.4% rise in first-half profit, underpinned by cost savings, and stuck to its full-year guidance despite expectations for continued tough trading in its second half.
*** The Hound of Hounslow - Navinder Sarao - the British day-trader who is accused by US authorities of contributing to 2010's Wall Street "Flash Crash", could be released from custody today if he wins an appeal. The US government has accused Mr Sarao of playing a major part in the 2010 crash, in which hundreds of billions of dollars were wiped off the value of US stock markets. It accused him of 22 counts of illegal trading, which carry a combined prison sentence of up to 380 years.
*** The US Federal reserve bank of St Louis said hackers had successfully attacked the bank. The hack redirected users of its online research services to fake websites set up by the attackers. The breach is the latest in a spate of hackings against government systems in recent months, affecting the White House, the State Department and President Obama's own email account.
*** Japan's better than expected economic growth lifted the Nikkei to a near one-month high today. It rose about 0.8%, approaching its best levels since late last month, after data showed Japan's economy grew at a 2.4% annualised rate in January, February and March. That was its fastest pace in a year.