Thu 25 Jan 2018


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In Portfolioticker today

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  • Today at the stock market Opinion
  • The portfolio today Opinion
  • News
  • flag_japan Japan Update
  • flag_china China Update
  • Today at the stock market

    bull/bearThe Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels ever on Thursday although Wall Street relinquished bigger gains after President Donald Trump said he wants a strong USD.

    • The S&P 500 index rose 1.71 points, or 0.06%, to 2,839.25 [record close] Earlier, it had risen as much as 0.39%.
    • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.67 points, or 0.54%, to end at 26,392.79 [record close].
    • The Nasdaq Composite index fell 3.90 points, or 0.05%, to 7,411.16
    • Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.2 billion shares, compared to the 6.7 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

    Bloomberg’s Dollar Spot Index (DXY) erased losses against a basket of major currencies after Trump told CNBC in an interview in Davos, Switzerland, that he wants to see a strong USD. The USD had suffered its biggest daily percentage drop in 7 months on Wednesday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weaker USD. A weaker dollar tends to benefit large U.S. multinational companies.

    Earnings Reports

    Robust quarterly earnings and economic data have given Wall Street a strong start to 2018, with the three major indexes up more than 6 percent year to date. But the market’s relentless rise over the past year has some investors worried about a correction.

    “It’s a market that ignores all bad news and thrives on good news. It’s scary. The correction is going to be cruel, cold and brutal when it happens,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa.

    S&P 500 companies on average are expected to have increased their fourth-quarter earnings by 12.7%, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    Of the S&P 500 companies that have already posted results, 78.8% have topped expectations, versus an average of 72% over the previous four quarters.

    “It’s non-stop positive reinforcement that keeps pushing the market up,” said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities in New York.

    Biogen Inc surged 2.09% after the drugmaker reported fourth-quarter revenue that beat Wall Street estimates on higher sales of recently launched drug Spinraza. The rise lifted the S&P healthcare sector .SPXHC 0.89 percent as one of the best-performing S&P groups.

    Shares of Caterpillar Inc fell as much as 3.5% and rose as much as 2.8% in the wake of its quarterly earnings More. The stock ended 0.61% higher. “If growth continues the way we expect, we should see a rotation out of these mega-cap tech companies and into more of the higher-leveraged value companies. And Caterpillar is it,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

    Ford Motor Co slumped 3.98% after the automaker posted a lower-than-expected quarterly net profit. Its bottom line was hurt by rising commodity costs and unfavorable currency exchange rates, and Ford said it expected more pain to come from higher raw material prices in 2018.

    In extended trade, Intel jumped 2.45% after the chipmaker reported its quarterly results.

    Starbucks (SBUX.O) fell 3.6% in extended trade following its earnings report.Reuters

    Market indices

    Market indices
    ^ Market indices today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: Google Finance

    Index Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
    S&P 500 SPX (INX) 2,839.25 +0.06% 2,238.83 +6.19%
    DJIA INDU 26,392.79 +0.53% 19,762.60 +6.77%
    NASDAQ IXIC 7,411.16 -0.06% 5,383.12 +7.35%

    Portfolio Indices

    USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks (Chart: Bunting)
    ^ USD and AUD denominated indices over the past 52 weeks Chart: Bunting

    Index values

    Index Currency Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
    USD-denominated Index USD 3.220 -0.80% 2.105 +4.97%
    Valuation Rate USD/AUD 0.80826 -0.51% 0.72663 +2.92%
    AUD-denominated Index AUD 3.988 -0.30% 2.895 +2.02%

    Portfolio stock prices

    :-) Amazon closed on a record high of $1,377.95, beating its 23 Jan 2018 record of $1,362.54
    :-) Ebay closed on a record high of $40.02, up 0.50% on yesterday’s record of $39.82
    :-) Alphabet Class A closed on a record high of $1,182.14, beating its 23 Jan 2018 record of $1,176.17
    :-) Alphabet Class C closed on a record high of $1,170.37, beating its 23 Jan 2018 record of $1,169.97
    :-) PayPal closed on a record high of $84.34, beating its 23 Jan 2018 record of $84.21
    :-) Visa closed on a record high of $125.22, beating its 23 Jan 2018 record of $124.65

    Stock Ticker Today Change 31 Dec 17 YTD
    Alphabet A GOOGL $1,182.14 +0.92% $1,053.00 +12.26%
    Alphabet C GOOG $1,170.37 +0.52% $1,045.65 +11.92%
    Apple AAPL $171.11 -1.79% $169.23 +1.11%
    Amazon AMZN $1,377.95 +1.50% $1,169.54 +17.81%
    Ebay EBAY $40.02 +0.50% $37.76 +5.98%
    Facebook FB $187.48 +0.49% $176.46 +6.24%
    PayPal PYPL $84.34 +0.75% $73.61 +14.57%
    Twitter TWTR $22.16 -0.94% $24.01 -7.71%
    Visa V $125.22 +0.53% $114.02 +9.82%
    VMware VMW $137.63 +0.40% $125.32 +9.82%

    FX: USD/AUD

    USD

    DXY movements
    ^ Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index (DXY) movements today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: Bloomberg

    President Donald Trump told CNBC on Thursday the dollar will strengthen over time under his leadership and that recent remarks made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the greenback were misinterpreted.

    The dollar is going to get stronger and stronger, and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar,” Trump said in an exclusive interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Our country is becoming so economically strong again and strong in other ways, too.”

    Trump’s latest remarks about the dollar diverge from his past comments. Last April, Trump said he was worried the dollar was “getting too strong.”

    At the WEF on Wednesday, Mnuchin said he welcomed a weaker U.S. dollar, adding that it would benefit the country’s trade. On Thursday, Mnuchin said the comment was not a “shift in my position on the dollar at all. It is perhaps slightly different than previous Treasury secretaries who in recent times have just commented on the strong dollar.

    Trump said Mnuchin’s comments “were taken out of context,” adding he “read his exact statement.”

    Mnuchin’s earlier remarks kicked off a 2 percent decline in the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency’s performance against six other currencies.

    The index traded at 88.75 on Thursday, near its lowest levels in three years. It began Wednesday trading around 90.”CNBC

    The EUR rose above USD 1.25 for the first time since Dec 2014 on Thursday, after ECB president Mario Draghi said at a press conference that recent data strengthened policymakers’ confidence that inflation will converge to the central bank’s target of below or close to 2%.

    Historically, the Euro Dollar Exchange Rate – EUR/USD reached an all time high of 1.87 in July of 1973 and a record low of 0.70 in February of 1985. The euro was only introduced as a currency on the first of January of 1999. However, synthetic historical prices going back much further can be modeled if we consider a weighted average of the previous currencies.TradingEconomics

    AUD

    AUD movements
    ^ AUD movements against the USD today (mouseover for 12 month view) Chart: xe.com

    Oil and Gas Futures

    Futures prices

    Oil rose on Thursday, with global benchmark Brent at one point surging above $71 a barrel for the first time since 2014 on support from a weaker U.S. dollar, tighter global supplies and a record run of declines in U.S. crude inventories.

    “This latest pop is due to the dollar trade,” said Gene McGillian.

    Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, hit $71.28/barrel, its highest since early Dec 2014. By 11:39 a.m. EST it was up 31 cents at $70.84/barrel.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude utures for March delivery rose 44 cents to $66.05/barrel, a 0.7% gain. Earlier, the contract climbed to $66.66, also the highest since Dec 2014.

    “The depreciation of the U.S. dollar is also allowing oil prices to make further gains,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank. “Almost every commodity class is being driven up by this extended dollar fall.”

    U.S. crude stockpiles have been dropping, underscoring the idea that global supply is rebalancing after a glut. U.S. crude inventories fell for a record 10th straight week to the lowest since Feb 2015, official figures showed on Wednesday.

    “The rebalance of the fundamental picture continues,” McGillian said. Still, he pointed to rising product inventories as a potential bearish signal.

    The supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia started a year ago and are set to last throughout 2018. They have been somewhat offset by growing output of U.S. shale oil, as higher prices have encouraged more investment in expanding supplies.

    U.S. crude oil production is expected to surpass 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in Feb 2018, on the way to a record ahead of previous forecasts, according to the U.S.government’s Energy Information Administration.Reuters

    Prices are as at 15:49 ET

    • NYMEX West Texas Intermediate (WTI): $65.21/barrel -0.61% Chart
    • ICE (London) Brent North Sea Crude: $70.08/barrel -0.64% Chart
    • NYMEX Natural gas futures: $3.45/MMBTU -1.68% Chart

    flag_europe EU: ECB Governing Council Monetary Policy Meeting

    Decision

    Press Release Extract [eu_ecb]

    At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.

    Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the new monthly pace of €30 billion, are intended to run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, the Governing Council stands ready to increase the asset purchase programme (APP) in terms of size and/or duration. The Eurosystem will reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary. This will contribute both to favourable liquidity conditions and to an appropriate monetary policy stance.

    European Central Bank, “Governing Council Monetary Policy Meeting“, 25 Jan 2018 More

    Press Conference and Introductory Statement


    ^ ECB Press Conference – 25 January 2018 (Starts at 4:20)

    Press Release Extract [eu_ecb]

    Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. We continue to expect them to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of our net asset purchases.

    Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, we confirm that our net asset purchases, at the new monthly pace of €30 billion, are intended to run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, we stand ready to increase the asset purchase programme (APP) in terms of size and/or duration. The Eurosystem will reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary. This will contribute both to favourable liquidity conditions and to an appropriate monetary policy stance.

    Incoming information confirms a robust pace of economic expansion, which accelerated more than expected in the second half of 2017. The strong cyclical momentum, the ongoing reduction of economic slack and increasing capacity utilisation strengthen further our confidence that inflation will converge towards our inflation aim of below, but close to, 2%. At the same time, domestic price pressures remain muted overall and have yet to show convincing signs of a sustained upward trend. Against this background, the recent volatility in the exchange rate represents a source of uncertainty which requires monitoring with regard to its possible implications for the medium-term outlook for price stability. Overall, an ample degree of monetary stimulus remains necessary for underlying inflation pressures to continue to build up and support headline inflation developments over the medium term. This continued monetary support is provided by the net asset purchases, by the sizeable stock of acquired assets and the forthcoming reinvestments, and by our forward guidance on interest rates.

    Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the economic analysis. Real GDP increased by 0.7%, quarter on quarter, in the third quarter of 2017, following similar growth in the second quarter. The latest economic data and survey results indicate continued strong and broad-based growth momentum at the turn of the year. Our monetary policy measures, which have facilitated the deleveraging process, continue to underpin domestic demand. Private consumption is supported by rising employment, which is also benefiting from past labour market reforms, and by growing household wealth. Business investment continues to strengthen on the back of very favourable financing conditions, rising corporate profitability and solid demand. Housing investment has improved further over recent quarters. In addition, the broad-based global expansion is providing impetus to euro area exports.

    The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are assessed as broadly balanced. On the one hand, the prevailing strong cyclical momentum could lead to further positive growth surprises in the near term. On the other hand, downside risks continue to relate primarily to global factors, including developments in foreign exchange markets.

    Euro area annual HICP inflation was 1.4% in December 2017, down from 1.5% in November. This reflected mainly developments in energy prices. Looking ahead, on the basis of current futures prices for oil, annual rates of headline inflation are likely to hover around current levels in the coming months. For their part, measures of underlying inflation remain subdued – in part owing to special factors – and have yet to show convincing signs of a sustained upward trend. Yet, looking forward, they are expected to rise gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the continuing economic expansion, the corresponding absorption of economic slack and rising wage growth.

    Turning to the monetary analysis, broad money (M3) continues to expand at a robust pace, with an annual rate of growth of 4.9% in November 2017, after 5.0% in October, reflecting the impact of the ECB’s monetary policy measures and the low opportunity cost of holding the most liquid deposits. Accordingly, the narrow monetary aggregate M1 continued to be the main contributor to broad money growth, expanding at an annual rate of 9.1% in November, after 9.4% in October.

    The recovery in the growth of loans to the private sector observed since the beginning of 2014 is proceeding. The annual growth rate of loans to non-financial corporations increased to 3.1% in November 2017, after 2.9% in October, while the annual growth rate of loans to households stood at 2.8% in November, compared with 2.7% in October. The euro area bank lending survey for the fourth quarter of 2017 indicates that loan growth continues to be supported by increasing demand and a further easing in overall lending conditions.

    The pass-through of the monetary policy measures put in place since June 2014 continues to significantly support borrowing conditions for firms and households, access to financing ‒ notably for small and medium-sized enterprises ‒ and credit flows across the euro area.

    To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed the need for an ample degree of monetary accommodation to secure a sustained return of inflation rates towards levels that are below, but close to, 2%.

    In order to reap the full benefits from our monetary policy measures, other policy areas must contribute decisively to strengthening the longer-term growth potential and reducing vulnerabilities. The implementation of structural reforms in euro area countries needs to be substantially stepped up to increase resilience, reduce structural unemployment and boost euro area productivity and growth potential. Regarding fiscal policies, the increasingly solid and broad-based expansion strengthens the case for rebuilding fiscal buffers. This is particularly important in countries where government debt remains high. All countries would benefit from intensifying efforts towards achieving a more growth-friendly composition of public finances. A full, transparent and consistent implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact and of the macroeconomic imbalance procedure over time and across countries remains essential to increase the resilience of the euro area economy. Strengthening Economic and Monetary Union remains a priority. The Governing Council welcomes the ongoing discussions on completing the banking union and the capital markets union, and on further deepening Economic and Monetary Union.

    European Central Bank, “Press Conference Introductory Statement“, 25 Jan 2018 More

    flag_usa US: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims

    Press Release Extract [ser_4]

    Seasonally Adjusted Data

    In the week ending January 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 233,000, an increase of 17,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 4,000 from 220,000 to 216,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,000 from 244,500 to 243,500.

    unemployment

    The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4 percent for the week ending January 13, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending January 13 was 1,937,000, a decrease of 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up 13,000 from 1,952,000 to 1,965,000. The 4-week moving average was 1,920,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 2,500 from 1,921,000 to 1,923,500.

    unemployment

    Unadjusted Data

    The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 262,301 in the week ending January 20, a decrease of 91,749 (or -25.9 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 111,248 (or -31.4 percent) from the previous week. There were 284,030 initial claims in the comparable week in 2017.

    The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6 percent during the week ending January 13, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,283,895, a decrease of 132,591 (or -5.5 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 100,196 (or -4.1 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 1.8 percent and the volume was 2,464,292.

    The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending January 6 was 2,453,910, an increase of 116,813 from the previous week. There were 2,561,133 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2017.

    Extended benefits were available in Alaska and the Virgin Island during the week ending January 6.

    Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 1,658 in the week ending January 13, an increase of 510 from the prior week. There were 839 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 116 from the preceding week.

    There were 14,491 former Federal civilian employees claiming UI benefits for the week ending January 6, an increase of 90 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 8,738, an increase of 268 from the prior week.

    The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending January 6 were in the Virgin Islands (11.2), Puerto Rico (5.4), Alaska (4.3), Connecticut (3.1), New Jersey (3.1), Pennsylvania (2.9), Montana (2.7), Rhode Island (2.7), Illinois (2.6), and Massachusetts (2.6).

    The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 13 were in California (+11,672), Texas (+5,567), Puerto Rico (+2,016), Connecticut (+1,660), and Arizona (+1,045), while the largest decreases were in New York (- 26,335), Georgia (-8,200), Wisconsin (-6,689), Pennsylvania (-6,342), and Michigan (-4,664).

    Employment and Training Administration, “Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report“, 25 Jan 2018 (08:30) More

    Comment: Reuters

    Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 for the week ended 20 Jan 2017. Claims fell to 216,000 in the prior week, the lowest level since Jan 1973.

    Economists had forecast claims rising to 240,000 in the latest week. Last week marked the 151st straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strong labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

    “The song remains the same for tightness of the labor market – employers are extremely reluctant to fire current workers, which reflects not only the current positive business environment but also the difficulty in finding qualified replacements,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.

    Last week, the four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,500 to 240,000.

    The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 28,000 to 1.94 million in the week ended Jan. 13. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 3,500 to 1.92 million.

    The continuing claims data covered the week of the household survey from which January’s unemployment rate will be calculated. The four-week average of continuing claims slipped 1,750 between the December and January survey periods.

    That suggests little change in the unemployment rate this month. The jobless rate dropped seven-tenths of a percentage point to a 17-year low of 4.1% in 2017, and economists expect it to hit 3.5% by the end of this year, which could spur faster wage growth as companies compete for workers.

    Strong wage inflation would in turn likely prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates a bit more aggressively than currently anticipated. The Federal Reserve has forecast three rate hikes this year. It increased borrowing costs three times in 2017.

    “The Fed may have to pick up its game this year and raise rates four times, not just the three they have already forecast,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.Reuters

    flag_usa US: New Residential Sales. Dec 2017

    Press Release Extract [us_newres]

    New Home Sales

    us_newres_20180125

    Sales of new single-family houses in December 2017 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 9.3 percent (±11.0 percent) below the revised November rate of 689,000, but is 14.1 percent (±13.0 percent) above the December 2016 estimate of 548,000.

    An estimated 608,000 new homes were sold in 2017. This is 8.3 percent (±4.1 percent) above the 2016 figure of 561,000.

    Sales Price

    The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2017 was $335,400. The average sales price was $398,900.

    For Sale Inventory and Months’ Supply

    The seasonally-adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 295,000. This represents a supply of 5.7 months at the current sales rate.

    U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Monthly New Residential Sales. Dec 2017“, 25 Jan 2018 (10:00) More

    Comment: Reuters

    Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell more than expected in Dec 2017, recording their biggest drop in nearly 1½ years, likely as the boost from the replacement of flood-damaged houses in parts of the South affected by hurricanes faded.

    Other data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose from a 45-year low last week. The jump in jobless claims was, however, less than expected, and the underlying trend remained consistent with a tight labor market that is helping to underpin demand for housing.

    “We expect demand for single-family housing to remain robust, driven by job gains and the aging of the millennial generation into prime homebuying ages,” said Ben Ayers, senior economist at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio.

    The Commerce Department said new home sales declined 9.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000 units last month. The percentage decrease was the largest since August 2016. Unseasonably cold temperatures at the end of December probably also hurt sales.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that new home sales, which account for 10.1% of the housing market, would tumble 7.9% to a pace of 679,000 units last month.

    Sales plunged 9.8% in the South last month after a 6.6% surge in Nov 2017 that was tied to rebuilding after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They fell 10% in the Midwest and dropped 2.4% in the Northeast – both regions experienced unusually cold weather in late Dec 2017. In the West, sales fell 9.5%.

    Pointing to underlying strength in the housing market, new home sales surged 14.1% from a year ago. They increased 8.3% in 2017 to 608,000 units, the highest level since 2007.

    The strong labor market, which is near full employment, has unleashed demand for housing that has not been matched by supply. As a result, house price inflation has outpaced wage growth, keeping some first-time home buyers out of the market. The median new house price rose 2.6% to a record $335,400 in Dec 2017 from Dec 2016.

    While the stock of new homes on the market increased 3.9% in Dec 2017 to 295,000 units, more than an 8½-year high, it remained below its peak of 572,000 units in July 2006.

    At December’s sales pace it would take 5.7 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 4.9 months in Nov 2017. A 6-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.Reuters

    flag_japan Japan update

    Currency: USD/JPY

    JPY movements
    ^ JPY movements against the USD over the past month (mouseover for inverse) Chart: xe.com

    Stockmarket: Nikkei 225

    n225 movements
    ^ Nikkei 225 movements over the past week Chart: Google Finance

    flag_china China update

    Currency: USD/CNY

    CNY movements
    ^ CNY movements against the USD over the past month (mouseover for inverse) Chart: xe.com

    Stockmarket: CSI300

    CSI300 movements
    ^ Shanghai CSI300 movements over the past week Chart: Google Finance