One of the girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s Chibok freed -police – Sean Seshadri

One of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist Boko Haram rebels in the northeastern Nigerian village of Chibok was freed this week, police and a parent of some of the other missing girls said on Thursday.

Boko Haram militants took the girls from a secondary school in the village near the Cameroon border in April, sparking a worldwide outcry, and have remained in captivity ever since.Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been pilloried at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for his inability to quell the violence by the Islamist militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy.

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“She was found running in a village. She was in the bush for about four days. She’s still receiving medical attention,” said a parent, who has two girls still with the insurgents and who declined to be named.
He added that she was now in the northeastern city of Yola.

Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu told reporters in Abuja that the 20-year-old woman was discovered on Wednesday, saying she had been “dropped off by suspected Boko Haram militants” at Mubi in Adamawa state, some 100 km (60 miles) from Chibok.

“Her condition is stable,” he said, without explaining why she might have been released.The Islamists offered last May a prisoner swap to release the girls, but the proposal was rejected by the government.
A military operation in the northeast has so far failed to quell the rebellion and has triggered reprisal attacks that are increasingly targeting civilians, after they formed vigilante groups to try to help the government flush out the militants.

Boko Haram militants on motorcycles killed at least 18 people in an attack on the northeast Nigerian town of Shaffa late on Wednesday, witnesses said on Thursday.The attack late on Wednesday left bodies in the street, witness Amos Mshelia, who escaped by running into the surrounding bush and on to the nearby town of Biu, told Reuters by telephone.

“People ran out of their houses in fear, but unknown to many of us the insurgents were nearby and they were pursuing people, shooting as we were fleeing,” he said.Boko Haram has seized several towns in the last two months, although the military said on Wednesday it had pushed them back and that 135 fighters had surrendered this week.

It also said Nigerian troops had killed a man posing as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in several videos, including one in which he threatened to sell the girls into slavery. The military said last year that Shekau himself might have been killed.’s-chibok-freed:-police-310782


Forex – GBP/USD rises on hopes for Scotland to stick with U.K. – Sean Seshadri

The pound rose against the dollar on Thursday on hopes Scots voting on their independence will opt to stick with the U.K. and forego secession.In U.S. trading on Thursday, GBP/USD was up 0.60% at 1.6374, up from a session low of 1.6426 and off a high of 1.6408.

Cable was likely to find support at 1.6160, Tuesday’s low, and resistance at 1.6644, the high from Sept. 1.Scots were heading to the polls on Thursday to vote on their independence in a referendum, with investors taking up positions betting that voters will decide to remain part of the U.K.

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Sterling firmed earlier after the final Ipsos Mori opinion poll of the referendum campaign showed the no vote was slightly ahead at 53%, while support for the yes vote was at 47%.Past polls found the yes and no camps trading places at 51% versus 49%, and the latest survey suggested the no campaign was advancing.

Mixed U.S. economic indicators softened the dollar, meanwhile.In a report, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending Sept. 13 fell by 36,000 to 280,000, the lowest level since mid-July, from the previous week’s revised total of 316,000.

Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 11,000 to 305,000 last week.Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said that the number of building permits issued last month dropped by 5.6% to 998,000 units from July’s total of 1.057 million.

Analysts expected building permits to fall by 0.4% to 1.045 million units in August.The report also showed that U.S. housing starts tumbled by 14.4% last month to hit 956,000 units from July’s total of 1.117 million units, confounding expectations for an increase to 1.040 million.The data came a day after the Fed reiterated that it expects interest rates to remain at rock-bottom levels for a “considerable time” after its bond-purchasing program ends.—gbp-usd-rises-on-hopes-for-scotland-to-stick-with-u.k.-309987

Gold prices weaker in Asia with focus on Fed policies – Sean Seshadri

Gold prices fell early in Asia on Monday as demand prospects waned with expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could raise interest rates within the first half of 2015.On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for December traded at $1,228.60 a troy ounce, down 0.24%, after hitting a session low of $1,228.10 a troy ounce on Friday, a level not seen since Jan. 9.

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Prices recovered on Friday to settle at $1,231.50, down $7.50, or 0.61%.Upbeat U.S. economic data on Friday underlined optimism over the strength of the economy and fuelled expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise rates sooner than previously thought.

In a preliminary report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index rose to a 14-month high of 84.6 this month, from a reading of 82.5 in August.The data came after a government report showed that U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% last month, in line with expectations.

Expectations that the Fed is growing closer to raising interest rates continued to boost the U.S. dollar against the yen and the euro, with the Japanese and European central banks likely to stick to a looser monetary policy stance.

In the week ahead, investors will be focusing on the outcome of Wednesday’s Fed policy meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen was to hold a press conference following the meeting.The central bank was expected to cut its asset purchase program by another $10 billion, which would keep it on track for winding up the program in October, and to start raising interest rates sometime in mid-2015.

Silver for December delivery fell 0.14% to $18.583 a troy ounce.Copper for December delivery slumped 0.80% to $3.080 a pound.Data released over the weekend showed that industrial production in China rose at an annualized rate of 6.9% in August, missing estimates for a gain of 8.8% and slowing from an increase of 9% a month earlier.

Fixed asset investment, which tracks construction activity, rose 16.5% in the January-August period, below expectations for a gain of 16.9% and slowing from 17.0% in the January-July period.The weaker than expected data underlined concerns about China’s economy and sparked speculation policymakers in Beijing will have to introduce fresh stimulus to meet the government’s 7.5% growth target.

Gold prices gain in Asia as physical demand supports rebound – Sean Seshadri

Gold prices rebounded in Asia on Wednesday on physical demand cues after a sharp dip overnight in the U.S.On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for December delivery traded at $1,255.80 a troy ounce, up 0.58%, after hitting an overnight session low of $1,248.30 and off a high of $1,258.90.

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Overnight, expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates sooner rather than later in 2015 boosted the dollar on Tuesday and sent gold prices falling.The dollar saw broad support on hawkish language in a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco report, which hinted that markets may be underestimating the pace at which rates may rise, evidenced by low volatility.

“Recently, subdued levels of volatility in financial markets have received some attention. For example, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (2014) noted that ‘indicators of expected volatility in some asset markets have fallen to low levels, suggesting that some investors may underappreciate the potential for losses and volatility going forward,”” the report released on Monday read.

“Prices of financial assets, such as stocks and bonds, are sensitive to unexpected changes in interest rates because their present values are determined by discounting future cash flows. Thus, the low volatility in asset markets could, in part, reflect market participants’ relative certainty about the future course of interest rates.”

By Tuesday, the greenback strengthened on the news, giving gold room to slide.Gold has seen support on three rounds of Fed asset purchases, rock-bottom interest rates, dovish language and other policies put into play since the 2008 financial crisis, as loose monetary policies tend to weaken the dollar, thus boosting the yellow metal’s appeal as a hedge.

NYMEX crude prices steady in Asia, U.S. stocks data, Ukraine eyed – Sean Seshadri

Crude oil prices were steady in Asia on Thursday with the focus on the upcoming U.S. stocks data from the Deprtment of Energy and easing etnsions in the Ukraine.The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, late Wednesday showed a 545,000-barrel decline in crude stocks. The API said gasoline supplies rose by 362,000 barrels and stocks of distillates rose by 385,000 barrels.

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Traders are waiting for weekly U.S. inventory data, which is set to be released Thursday at 11 a.m. EDT, one day later than usual due to the Labor Day holiday. Analysts expect the U.S. Energy Information Administration to report that oil supplies fell 1.113 million barrels, while distillates dipped 500,000 barrels and gasoline stocks eased 1.325 million barrels.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for delivery in October traded at $95.18 a barrel, down 0.01%, after hitting an overnight session low of $93.07 a barrel and a high of $95.83 a barrel.

Brent oil prices rose 2.4% to $102.77 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe on Wednesday.Overnight, bargain hunting sent oil prices soaring as investors felt global supply concerns had pushed the commodity too low, while investors also kept an eye on Ukraine amid talk of a developing ceasefire and its bullish economic ramifications.

In the U.S., the U.S. Census Bureau reported earlier that factory orders rose 10.5% in July, below expectations for an increase of 11%, after a revised 1.5% rise in June, though the advancing figure failed to dampen spirits.

On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing purchasing managers’ index jumped to 59.0 in August from 57.1 in July, defying analysts’ calls for the index to tick down to 56.8.

While investors have ignored positive U.S. economic indicators recently due to concerns that the world is awash in crude oil, bargain hunting along with thawing Ukraine-Russia relations sparked a rally on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said he had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to take steps to establish a “permanent ceasefire” in eastern Ukraine.Putin later said his views were “very close” with Poroshenko on finding a political way out of the conflict.,-u.s.-stocks-data,-ukraine-eyed-307575

Crude oil futures decline on global demand worries – Sean Seshadri

Crude oil futures decline on Tuesday, as Monday’s disappointing manufacturing data from China and the euro zone continued to weigh while tensions between Russia and Ukraine remained on focus.On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in October traded at $92.58 a barrel during European morning trade, down 0.71%.

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Futures were likely to find support at $94.48 a barrel, the low from August 29 and resistance at $96.00, the high from August 29 and a more than two-week high.Oil prices came under pressure after data on Monday showed that factory growth in China slowed last month. China’s official manufacturing index ticked down to 51.1 from 51.7 in July, while the HSBC manufacturing index slowed to 50.2 from 50.3 the previous month.

Separate reports on Monday also showed that Germany’s manufacturing sector expanded at the slowest pace in 11 months in July, while factory activity in France contracted at the quickest pace in 13 months.

The weak data fuelled concerns over global oil demand.Elsewhere, market participants continued to monitor developments in Ukraine after European Union leaders threatened over the weekend to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia if Moscow does not scale back its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.Existing sanctions have so far not disrupted oil exports from Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter.

Gold trims losses, as Ukraine unrest cushions blow from U.S. data – Sean Seshadri

Escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine partially offset a fresh batch of upbeat U.S. economic indicators on Friday and brought gold prices off earlier lows.On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for December delivery traded at 1,287.90 a troy ounce during U.S. trading, down 0.19%, up from a session low of $1,284.40 and off a high of $1,292.30.

The December contract settled up 0.55% at $1,283.00 on Thursday.Futures were likely to find support at $1,273.40 a troy ounce, the low from Aug. 21, and resistance at $1,297.60, Thursday’s high.
Upbeat U.S. data pushed gold prices down on Friday.

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The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan revised consumer sentiment index came in at 82.5 this month, up from a preliminary reading of 79.2 and exceeding expectations for a reading of 80.1.
July’s final reading came in at 81.8, and the uptick in the final August reading bolstered the dollar by keeping expectations firm that the Federal Reserve will close stimulus programs around October and hike interest rates some time in 2015.

Separately, data revealed that the Chicago-area purchasing managers’ index rose to 64.3 in August from 52.6 in July, beating expectations for an increase to 56.0.On a less positive note, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. personal spending fell 0.1% last month, confounding expectations for a 0.2% rise, after an increase of 0.4% in June, though Friday’s overall positive data coupled with upbeat reports from earlier this week reminded markets that the days of ultra-loose U.S. monetary policy that have supported gold for years are coming to a close.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that U.S. economy grew at a revised annualized rate of 4.2%, up from a preliminary estimate of 4.0% and better than market forecasts for a downward revision to 3.9%.

Geopolitical issues cushioned gold’s losses.Reports that Russian troops have entered Ukraine to assist pro-Moscow separatists fueled safe-haven demand for the precious metal due to concerns that the conflict will dampen the global economy—especially if Russia sees fresh sanctions—and drag on U.S. recovery as a consequence.,-as-ukraine-unrest-cushions-blow-from-u.s.-data-306532