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Trump Demands Fed Help on Economy, Complains About Interest Rate Rises

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  • Trump Demands Fed Help on Economy, Complains About Interest Rate Rises

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was “not thrilled” with the Federal Reserve under his own appointee, Chairman Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates and said the U.S. central bank should do more to help him to boost the economy.

In the middle of international trade disputes, Trump in an interview with Reuters also accused China and Europe of manipulating their respective currencies.

American presidents have rarely criticized the Fed in recent decades because its independence has been seen as important for economic stability. Trump has departed from this past practice and said he would not shy from future criticism should the Fed keep lifting rates.

The president spooked investors in July when he criticized the U.S. central bank’s over tightening monetary policy. On Monday he said the Fed should be more accommodating on interest rates.

“I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I’m not thrilled,” Trump said, referring to Powell. Trump nominated Powell last year to replace former Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

U.S. stock prices dipped after Trump’s comments to Reuters and the U.S. dollar .DXY edged down against a basket of currencies.

Trump, who criticized the Fed when he was a candidate, said other countries benefited from their central banks’ moves during tough trade talks, but the United States was not getting support from the Fed.

“We’re negotiating very powerfully and strongly with other nations. We’re going to win. But during this period of time I should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated,” Trump said.

The Fed has raised interest rates twice this year and is expected to do so again next month with consumer price inflation rising to 2.9 percent in July, its highest level in six years, and unemployment at 3.9 percent, the lowest level in about 20 years.

After leaving its policy interest rates at historic lows for about six years after the 2008 global financial crisis, the Fed began slowly raising rates again in late 2015.

Trump said China was manipulating its yuan currency to make up for having to pay tariffs on imports imposed by Washington. “I think China’s manipulating their currency, absolutely. And I think the euro is being manipulated also,” Trump said.

“What they’re doing is making up for the fact that they’re now paying … hundreds of millions of dollars and in some cases billions of dollars into the United States Treasury. And so they’re being accommodated and I’m not. And I’ll still win.”

Trump has frequently accused China of manipulating its currency, but his administration has so far declined to name China formally as a currency manipulator in a semi-annual report from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened this year by 5.35 percent against the yuan, reversing most of its large drop against the Chinese currency in 2017.

The euro is off by about 4.3 percent against the greenback this year, beset by concerns over the pace of economic growth in the EU trading bloc and over U.S.-European trade tensions.

Trump has made reducing U.S. trade deficits a priority and the combination of rising interest rates and a strengthening dollar pose risks for export growth.

A Fed spokesman declined to comment on Trump’s remarks on Monday.

Powell last month said in an interview that the Fed has a “long tradition” of independence from political concerns, and that no one in the Trump administration had said anything to him that gave him concerns on that front.

“We’re going to do our business in a way that’s strictly nonpolitical, without taking political issues into consideration, and that carries out the mandate Congress has given us,” he said.

Financial market analysts doubt current Fed policy makers are likely to be cowed by Trump’s outbursts over their policy choices.

Still, it might affect candidates for openings on the bank’s seven-member board, said Guy LeBas, fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. Currently only three seats are filled.

“I doubt these comments move the needle for Powell and his colleagues, but it certainly sends a strong signal to those candidates interested in vying for one of the Fed Board’s many open seats: favor easy money policy or find another job,” LeBas said.

In addition to picking Powell as Fed chair, Trump has appointed one other board member, Randal Quarles, and has nominated three others to the panel, two of whom are expected to be confirmed soon by the Senate. That leaves at least one other current opening for him to fill.

Asked if he believed in the Fed’s independence, Trump said: “I believe in the Fed doing what’s good for the country.”

Powell took over as Fed chief earlier this year.

“Am I happy with my choice?” Trump said to Reuters about Powell. “I’ll let you know in seven years.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Gold

Gold Steadies After Initial Gains on Reports of Israel’s Strikes in Iran

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Gold, often viewed as a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, exhibited a characteristic surge in response to reports of Israel’s alleged strikes in Iran, only to stabilize later as tensions simmered.

The yellow metal’s initial rally came on the heels of escalating tensions in the Middle East, with concerns mounting over a potential wider conflict.

Spot gold soared as much as 1.6% in early trading as news circulated regarding Israel’s purported strikes on targets in Iran.

This surge, reaching a high of $2,400 a ton, reflected the nervousness pervading global markets amidst the saber-rattling between the two nations.

However, as the day progressed, media reports from both countries appeared to downplay the impact and severity of the alleged strikes, contributing to a moderation in gold’s gains.

Analysts noted that while the initial spike was fueled by fears of heightened conflict, subsequent assessments suggesting a less severe outcome helped calm investor nerves, leading to a stabilization in gold prices.

Traders had been bracing for a potential Israeli response following Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, raising concerns about a retaliatory spiral between the two adversaries.

Reports of an explosion in Iran’s central city of Isfahan further added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, prompting flight suspensions and exacerbating market jitters.

In addition to geopolitical tensions, gold’s rally in recent months has been underpinned by other factors, including expectations of US interest rate cuts, sustained central bank buying, and robust consumer demand, particularly in China.

Despite the initial surge followed by stabilization, gold remains sensitive to developments in the Middle East and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Investors continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of escalation or de-escalation, recognizing gold’s role as a traditional safe haven in times of uncertainty.

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Commodities

Global Cocoa Prices Surge to Record Levels, Processing Remains Steady

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Cocoa futures in New York have reached a historic pinnacle with the most-active contract hitting an all-time high of $11,578 a metric ton in early trading on Friday.

This surge comes amidst a backdrop of challenges in the cocoa industry, including supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions, and rising production costs.

Despite these hurdles, the pace of processing in chocolate factories has remained constant, providing a glimmer of hope for chocolate lovers worldwide.

Data released after market close on Thursday revealed that cocoa processing, known as “grinds,” was up in North America during the first quarter, appreciating by 4% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, processing in Europe only saw a modest decline of about 2%, and Asia experienced a slight decrease.

These processing figures are particularly noteworthy given the current landscape of cocoa prices. Since the beginning of 2024, cocoa futures have more than doubled, reflecting the immense pressure on the cocoa market.

Yet, despite these soaring prices, chocolate manufacturers have managed to maintain their production levels, indicating resilience in the face of adversity.

The surge in cocoa prices can be attributed to a variety of factors, including supply shortages caused by adverse weather conditions in key cocoa-producing regions such as West Africa.

Also, rising demand for chocolate products, particularly premium and artisanal varieties, has contributed to the upward pressure on prices.

While the spike in cocoa prices presents challenges for chocolate manufacturers and consumers alike, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the cocoa market.

Despite the record-breaking prices, the steady pace of cocoa processing suggests that chocolate lovers can still expect to indulge in their favorite treats, albeit at a higher cost.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Leverages Cheaper US Oil Imports to Boost Production

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The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is capitalizing on the availability of cheaper oil imports from the United States.

Recent reports indicate that the refinery with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day has begun leveraging US-grade oil to power its operations in Nigeria.

According to insights from industry analysts, the refinery has commenced shipping various products, including jet fuel, gasoil, and naphtha, as it gradually ramps up its production capacity.

The utilization of US oil imports, particularly the WTI Midland grade, has provided Dangote Refinery with a cost-effective solution for its feedstock requirements.

Experts anticipate that the refinery’s gasoline-focused units, expected to come online in the summer months will further bolster its influence in the Atlantic Basin gasoline markets.

Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals, and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, noted that Dangote’s entry into the gasoline market is poised to reshape the West African gasoline supply dynamics.

Despite operating at approximately half its nameplate capacity, Dangote Refinery’s impact on regional fuel markets is already being felt. The refinery’s recent announcement of a reduction in diesel prices from N1,200/litre to N1,000/litre has generated excitement within Nigeria’s downstream oil sector.

This move is expected to positively affect various sectors of the economy and contribute to reducing the country’s high inflation rate.

Furthermore, the refinery’s utilization of US oil imports shows its commitment to exploring cost-effective solutions while striving to meet Nigeria’s domestic fuel demand. As the refinery continues to optimize its production processes, it is poised to play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy landscape and contribute to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

Moreover, the Nigerian government’s recent directive to compel oil producers to prioritize domestic refineries for crude supply aligns with Dangote Refinery’s objectives of reducing reliance on imported refined products.

With the flexibility to purchase crude using either the local currency or the US dollar, the refinery is well-positioned to capitalize on these policy reforms and further enhance its operational efficiency.

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