The Three Pillars of Blog Traffic

One of the saddest sights online is blogs that have been abandoned by their creators. Many of these are authors who have been told that blogs will help them gather raving fans who will promote their books. These authors didn’t know that there’s nothing more important when starting blogs than getting traffic. Traffic is more important than content, more important than which software is being used to run a blog, more important than a fancy blog header or editorial schedule.

Though it’s true that the quality of content will make or break a blog, and software and design are important, getting traffic is a blog’s existential requirement. That’s because if a blog doesn’t get traffic, it will probably die. It will become one of those melancholy abandoned sites people stumble across online. We don’t want that to happen, because blogging, when done right, really does return amazing rewards to the authors who pursue it.

By traffic, what we mean is people: people who come and read articles, who participate in discussions, who share passions and interests. For authors who are trying to build communities and prepare the ground for future books, learning to integrate three drivers of traffic—content, social media, and search—will deliver results.

Content

The articles a blogger publishes are content. But bloggers need to make sure content attracts traffic. Each blog post needs a clear reason to exist and bloggers should ask themselves these questions before pushing the Publish button:

◗ Does it help someone solve a problem?

◗ Does it answer a question that a lot of people are asking?

◗ Does it make a necessary task easier or show a new way to do it?

◗ Is it written in a way that really communicates with the people who need it most?

Great blog content is unique, memorable, or helpful, or it answers specific questions. How-to articles, for instance, are highly valued by readers stumped by specific processes and can attract a lot of traffic. Product reviews have also become great traffic magnets, with millions of people relying on them for buying assistance. Interviews, opinion pieces, roundups of expert commentary—there’s no end to the kinds of content bloggers can produce if they know what their readers are looking for.

Social Media

A blog is the ideal hub to use when expanding marketing into social media. Social accounts are outposts to attract people who can then be encouraged to visit blogs for further information and engagement. Bloggers should ask these questions when evaluating their social media strategies:

◗ Do they provide their followers with great content, entertainment, links, or ideas?

◗ Have they become known as trusted or entertaining resources?

◗ Is there a good likelihood that their social media followers will heed their calls to action?

Savvy authors find people who are interested in their work on social media and then direct them to their blogs, building their own traffic—not just the traffic for the social media site.

Search

Although Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites now account for a huge amount of web traffic, responses to search queries remain the single largest source of traffic to blogs. Bloggers need to have specific strategies to boost their search traffic and should ask themselves these questions:

◗ Have they spent time making sure that what they publish reflects what people are searching for?

◗ Do they know the keywords that are most important in the subjects they write about?

◗ Do they know how to do simple search engine optimization (SEO) on their blog posts?

◗ Do they use blog metrics such as those provided by Google Analytics (a free program) to find out which efforts are having results?

Although SEO is a complicated science, bloggers don’t have to learn very much to start getting results. There are very few authors who seem to pay attention to SEO, and that’s a big advantage for those who do, as they may be able to rank quite well with just a little work.

The point is that people—readers, viewers, buyers—come for a reason. There has to be something to attract them, and they may need repeated exposure before they discover it. That’s part of the job of authors’ social media outposts: to spread the word about their great and useful content.

Getting these three elements lined up and functioning properly takes some work, experience, and thought. But, with the right content, intelligently written to be friendly to searchers in a niche and circulated within an active social media network, a blog will prosper.

Joel Friedlander is a book designer and author; he blogs about book design, marketing, and the future of the book at The Book Designer.

A version of this article appeared in the 06/26/2017 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: The Three Pillars of Blog Traffic
[“Source-publishersweekly”]

Three Big Mistakes I Still See (Good) SEO Agencies Making

In my job, I either create or assist in creating a couple dozen SEO site audits a month. Being a part of the process instead of completely delegating it to employees is still important to me for numerous reasons: Doing so gives us a chance to discuss and analyze often more complicated concepts of SEO. It gives me a refresher for many of the different facets of SEO if I’m doing more managerial tasks for a long period. It acclimates me with the hundreds of other SEO companies around the country. And finally, it gives me insight into the interesting, clever things some people are doing and the outdated, not-so-impressive approaches others may be taking.

Below are a few of the most common bad SEO practices I witness regularly during site audits and how you can address them.

Using/Abusing Weak Meta Information

This is simple on paper, but potentially complex in implementation. Meta information is “behind the scenes” code that gives both search engines and users more information about the website and/or the particular web page. It isn’t that common that I see meta information on pages created purposefully in its entirety. Though meta information could rely somewhat on opinion and could be done 100 different ways per page and still technically be correct, I strongly feel the criteria is straightforward:

  • The meta title should always be the main keyword of the page. If there are two keywords, include them both. If there’s one main keyword, follow it with your branded keyword, such as: “Towing Company NYC | Bob’s Towing Company” or “Quick, Easy Tax Returns | Jill’s Tax Consulting, LLC.”
  • The meta description should contain your main keywords. In one part, show what makes this page different from others on your site. In another, identify what the viewer can expect to get from the page. Finally, include some sort of call to action.
  • Include meta keywords at your discretion (but definitely add them if you have time).

Weak meta titles often miss geography information, lack enough specific information about the service/product, and use duplicate titles from other pages. In the meta description, you want to avoid using the same description for every page, adding as many keywords as possible so that it simply reads like it’s an opportunity to abuse SEO, or omitting helpful information.

Keep in mind your meta description is included in search results along with your title. So if it reads poorly, it could easily deter visitors. Here are two examples for comparison:

  • Good example: “Jill’s Tax Consulting is an experienced team of accountants handling tax returns, business creation and dissolution, and more. Call for a free consultation today!”
  • Bad example: “Tax returns, business creation, business dissolution, tax consulting, tax accountants, tax experts. We’re the best tax consulting and accountants for your individual or businesses needs. Call for cheap, best tax consulting now.”
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Including Too Many Plugins

Most SMB websites today are on WordPress, which is great, despite certain drawbacks such as bloated code. In essence, a plugin is a big block of programming code (PHP, JavaScript) that adds additional functionality to your site. Over time, the more plugins you have, the more code you’re essentially injecting into your site until it becomes slower and slower to load. You can tell just how slow your site is getting by doing a run of Google PageSpeed Insights.

SEO experts are very rarely programmers or have knowledge of how code fundamentally could affect site performance and in turn affect SEO. I once had a legal marketer tell me that his client websites ran on a “proprietary blend of 50 plugins.” Not only did it sound like they were fueled by a high-end, indiscernible coffee of some sort, but it seemed that any visitor would be patiently waiting for the site to load well into the next Google algorithm update. 

To avoid this, think about what plugins you can live without, which ones are actually not necessary (because writing the code yourself is relatively simple), and what happens to the site if certain plugins are deactivated.

[Source:-Forbes]

Three Big Mistakes I Still See (Good) SEO Agencies Making

In my job, I either create or assist in creating a couple dozen SEO site audits a month. Being a part of the process instead of completely delegating it to employees is still important to me for numerous reasons: Doing so gives us a chance to discuss and analyze often more complicated concepts of SEO. It gives me a refresher for many of the different facets of SEO if I’m doing more managerial tasks for a long period. It acclimates me with the hundreds of other SEO companies around the country. And finally, it gives me insight into the interesting, clever things some people are doing and the outdated, not-so-impressive approaches others may be taking.

Below are a few of the most common bad SEO practices I witness regularly during site audits and how you can address them.

Using/Abusing Weak Meta Information

This is simple on paper, but potentially complex in implementation. Meta information is “behind the scenes” code that gives both search engines and users more information about the website and/or the particular web page. It isn’t that common that I see meta information on pages created purposefully in its entirety. Though meta information could rely somewhat on opinion and could be done 100 different ways per page and still technically be correct, I strongly feel the criteria is straightforward:

  • The meta title should always be the main keyword of the page. If there are two keywords, include them both. If there’s one main keyword, follow it with your branded keyword, such as: “Towing Company NYC | Bob’s Towing Company” or “Quick, Easy Tax Returns | Jill’s Tax Consulting, LLC.”
  • The meta description should contain your main keywords. In one part, show what makes this page different from others on your site. In another, identify what the viewer can expect to get from the page. Finally, include some sort of call to action.
  • Include meta keywords at your discretion (but definitely add them if you have time).

Weak meta titles often miss geography information, lack enough specific information about the service/product, and use duplicate titles from other pages. In the meta description, you want to avoid using the same description for every page, adding as many keywords as possible so that it simply reads like it’s an opportunity to abuse SEO, or omitting helpful information.

Keep in mind your meta description is included in search results along with your title. So if it reads poorly, it could easily deter visitors. Here are two examples for comparison:

  • Good example: “Jill’s Tax Consulting is an experienced team of accountants handling tax returns, business creation and dissolution, and more. Call for a free consultation today!”
  • Bad example: “Tax returns, business creation, business dissolution, tax consulting, tax accountants, tax experts. We’re the best tax consulting and accountants for your individual or businesses needs. Call for cheap, best tax consulting now.”Including Too Many Plugins

    Most SMB websites today are on WordPress, which is great, despite certain drawbacks such as bloated code. In essence, a plugin is a big block of programming code (PHP, JavaScript) that adds additional functionality to your site. Over time, the more plugins you have, the more code you’re essentially injecting into your site until it becomes slower and slower to load. You can tell just how slow your site is getting by doing a run of Google PageSpeed Insights.

    SEO experts are very rarely programmers or have knowledge of how code fundamentally could affect site performance and in turn affect SEO. I once had a legal marketer tell me that his client websites ran on a “proprietary blend of 50 plugins.” Not only did it sound like they were fueled by a high-end, indiscernible coffee of some sort, but it seemed that any visitor would be patiently waiting for the site to load well into the next Google algorithm update. 

    To avoid this, think about what plugins you can live without, which ones are actually not necessary (because writing the code yourself is relatively simple), and what happens to the site if certain plugins are deactivated.

  • [Source:-Forbes]

Top Three FX Themes for Next Week’s Heavy Economic Calendar

Talking Points:

– Next week’s economic calendar is loaded with high importance announcements throughout the week. The highlights of which are the Bank of Japan on Monday night/Tuesday morning, FOMC on Wednesday, BoE’s Super Thursday followed by Non-Farm Payrolls on Friday. We previewed this in our webinar yesterday, and if you’d like a video walk-through, please click here.

– The major trends that developed in Q4 in the U.S. Dollar and Japanese Yen have spent much of January retracing; but with next week’s economic calendar, the potential certainly exists for those trends to continue or finally break-down and reverse.

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As rallies were developing across-the-world after the U.S. Presidential Election, there was very little pullback or slowdown. Markets were being volleyed-higher by a rare combination of a Central Bank that’s standing on the sideline, ready to ‘do more’ if needed; while the fiscal side of the equation was being driven by hope for massive infrastructure investment that might actually have a chance of being approved (given the GOP super majority and the prospect of lessened Congressional resistance).

This new paradigm was priced-in to global markets rather quickly; so quickly, in fact, that once we came into January, it began to become worrisome that the excitement may have gone a bit too far. So, much of January has seen retracements in markets like the U.S. Dollar and the Japanese Yen; and as we near the turn into February, a heightened economic calendar might provide that motivation to extend or finally break-down and reverse those prior trends. Below, we look at three of the most pertinent FX themes for next week and we finish with a look at the Dow Jones after it’s recent climb above 20k.

Is the U.S. Dollar Up-Trend Ready to Come Back to Life?

We looked at this theme on Wednesday as the Greenback was falling down into a crucial zone of support around the 100-level on DXY. Within this zone of support is a well-worn level of prior resistance from the 2015 highs, a psychological level at 100 as well as the 50% retracement of the post-Election move in the Greenback.

Top Three FX Themes for Next Week's Heavy Economic Calendar

Chart prepared by James Stanley

Since running into this confluent support zone earlier in the week, short-term price action in the U.S. Dollar has begun to move higher, with a near-term higher-high printing which indicates that bullish continuation may be near. On the hourly chart below, we drill-down to look at how price action traders might look for this move to continue.

Top Three FX Themes for Next Week's Heavy Economic Calendar

Chart prepared by James Stanley

Is Yen Weakness Around-the-Corner?

Another robust Q4 theme that’s seen retracement throughout January has been the massive run of weakness in the Japanese Yen. With the Bank of Japan meeting on Monday night/Tuesday morning, the possibility certainly exists for markets to get some usable information to price-in to those next trends in the Yen. And while little is being expected by way of new announcements, the Bank of Japan press conferences have a tendency to create volatility, and given the heavy calendar following next week’s BoJ meeting, there will be numerous opportunities for markets to work with any innuendo or indications that might be offered.

Last week we devoted a large chunk of a webinar to ‘The Return of Yen Trends,’ and since then we’ve seen some element of weak-Yen building in FX markets, particularly against the British Pound. On the chart below, we’re looking at USD/JPY along with what traders might be looking for in the effort of trading top-side continuation.

Top Three FX Themes for Next Week's Heavy Economic Calendar

Chart prepared by James Stanley

BoE Inflation Forecasts – Will This Drive Cable to Fresh Highs?

We’ve been discussing the saga of British inflation ever since the Brexit referendum. As Mark Carney had warned us, Brexit brought a ‘sharp repricing’ in the value of the British Pound. But after the referendum, and the Bank of England went uber-dovish in the effort of proactively off-setting risks from Brexit, and demand for the British Pound basically died. The ‘flash crash’ in October is indicative of as such, as there was just no buyers are current prices and the currency went into temporary free-fall. But as we noted just a week and a half later, rising forces of inflation could, potentially reverse that ‘pain chain’ that was seen in Sterling.

Just two weeks later, the Bank of England shifted their inflation expectations at November’s Super Thursday, and this brought strength back into the British Pound. Surprisingly, GBP was one of the few currencies in the world that was actually stronger than the Greenback during the month of November.

But December and early January saw Brexit worries develop again as the prospect of a ‘Hard Brexit’ was looking more-likely. But last week, Theresa May finally delivered her widely-awaited ‘Brexit speech’ and then a week later, the U.K. Supreme Court ruling that mandated parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50 collectively helped to re-drive Cable back up to fresh highs.

Next Thursday brings us the first Super Thursday since that meeting in November. What the Bank of England says about inflation expectations will probably be really important here. On the chart below, we’re looking at recent price action in the Cable along with what traders might want to watch for in order to trade a bullish continuation move-higher.

Top Three FX Themes for Next Week's Heavy Economic Calendar

Chart prepared by James Stanley

Equities: Can U.S. Stocks Continue to Drive-Higher?

It was widely reported this week that the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the psychological 20,000 level for the very first time in history. But perhaps more interesting is the fact that the Dow was below 18k just two and a half months ago; and the rate of incline really helps to illustrate just how much excitement and hope has enveloped capital markets after the election of Donald Trump.

But as we looked at yesterday, crossing above a psychological barrier isn’t necessarily a ‘bullish’ factor in and of itself, as now stock prices and equity markets will ‘seem’ more expensive to many regular investors (in the same way that a price of $1.99 feels much cheaper than $2.00, and this is why retailers commonly use such pricing strategies). When the Dow Jones crossed 10k back in 1999, a similar backdrop of hope was driving markets to exuberant valuations; but back then it was the hope of what the internet might bring to regular businesses while today’s hope is being driven by the potential policies from a Donald Trump-led government.

This hope has driven stock prices to aggressive valuations, again, very similar to what we saw in 1999. We had discussed this topic last month in the article, Are U.S. Stocks Expensive – Yes, and since then stock prices have only gotten more expensive according to the Shiller PE ratio. As of yesterday’s close, Shiller PE was reading at 28.46 and stock prices have only been this expensive at two other times in history: in 1929 and then in 1999, and neither of those scenarios worked out well with the Great Depression and the Tech Collapse following.

But stock prices being ‘expensive’ isn’t a bearish driver unto itself, is it? This is what we saw in 1999 when Shiller PE continued to bubble-higher, driven by hopes of the internet boom. Expensive valuations are very much like prices being above a psychological price point of 10k or 20k, as these don’t necessarily scream out that investors should sell as much as it indicates that they should be cautious if buying. For bearish drive to take-over, there usually needs to be a catalyst of some kind.

One possible catalyst and this is something that’s been an issue in the recent past is the prospect of normalization of Fed policy. Higher rates and tighter operating conditions make for a more unforgiving backdrop for corporates to operate in. Combine this with the fact that investors have more attractive opportunity costs to account for those higher rates, and this can, eventually, begin to bring pressure into stock prices. For investors – waiting for higher rates is usually a non-starter as markets will usually try to anticipate this type of action. This is what we saw in January of 2016 when markets cratered after the first Fed rate hike in over nine years. It likely wasn’t the rate hike that freaked everyone out as much as the Fed’s pledge to try to hike rates a full four times in 2016. That, of course, did not work out well so once they finally abated, stock prices were free to fly again.

But now that we have hope for fiscal policy to take over, the Fed might feel that they have a bit more operating room to try to more aggressively ‘normalize’ policy. The Fed has said they are expecting three rate hikes this year, and the big question is whether the pressure from three hikes might help to trigger a catalyst of some kind while U.S. equity markets are vulnerably expensive.

[Source:-Daily FX]

CES 2017: Garmin introduces three new multisport watches

Created to “to fit every wrist and every workout,” the addition of the new fēnix 5, fēnix 5S and fēnix 5X to Garmin’s ever-expanding range of sports wearables will for the first time offer Garmin fans a variety of sizes for one product.

Offering features for a variety of outdoor sports, including running, swimming, biking, hiking, hunting, and golfing, all of the new fēnix models come with daily activity tracking and Garmin ElevateTMwrist heart rate technology to measure your performance no matter where you are in the great outdoors. Gym goers can also use their new fēnix for indoor workouts, and keep track of their training stats with a performance widget that shows training status, training load and more.

The fēnix 5 comes with a brand new, more compact design but is still packed with a range of multisport features, while the fēnix 5S offers the same high tech features but with the added bonus of being lighter, sleeker and smaller than previous models, making it perfect for more petite wrists which need a comfortable and secure fit while working out.

The larger fēnix 5X also packs in TOPO US mapping, routable cycling maps and other navigation features such as Round Trip Run and Round Trip Ride, enabling users to enter how far they’d like to run or ride, with the fēnix 5X then suggesting appropriate courses to choose from.

Each model is available in a variety of colors and finishes and with interchangeable watchbands so you can customize your style as well as your fit, and all models also come with a variety of connected features, such as call, text and email smart notifications.

Garmin has also announced some new sports apps, widgets, data fields and watch faces, which users can download from the Connect IQ Store to further customize their wearable. To improve cycling safety users of Garmin Edge® GPS bike computers can now access and control their Bontrager headlights and taillights with the new data field from Trek/Bontrager, as well as see the battery level of multiple lights and control the light setting for each.

For improved performance GU Energy Labs reminds cyclists when it’s time to fuel their ride with GU Energy Gels, as well as helping cyclists keep track of how many gels they should have eaten, while nuun Active Hydration users have a new custom watch face to keep track of the user’s step progress towards their goal. And for those who want to get on their bike for social as well as sports reasons, a new widget from JOIN will also make it easier for cyclists to meet up for group rides anywhere, anytime.

For runners, the Stryd IQ app displays data from a Stryd foot-mounted power meter onto a Garmin wearable to help improve running efficiency and distance, and for both cyclists and sports fans the Strava Live Suffer Score data field will analyze how much time users spend in different heart rate zones and measure total activity effort.

The fēnix 5, 5S and 5x will be available in the first quarter of 2017, with more information available at garmin.com/fenix. The Connect IQ Store can be found at apps.garmin.com or in the device tab of Garmin Connect.

[Source:-DNA]

These three major China themes will be pivotal in 2017

After a turbulent 2015, 2016 turned out to be a decent year for the Chinese economy. Economic growth was steady at 6.7 per cent throughout the first three quarters and should print at similar levels in the fourth quarter, allowing Beijing to achieve this year’s target. In addition, the government has managed to make some progress on a number of structural reforms, such as reducing industrial overcapacity, restructuring the corporate sector and liberalising the financial market.

Against these achievements however, a number of old ills in the economy have deteriorated further. Chief among them is leverage, as credit growth continued to outstrip nominal GDP growth. Inefficiency of credit usage remains a deep concern as liquidity continued to be channelled by state-owned enterprises and into the property market. As a result, the overall debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to climb above 260 per cent by end-2016.

Externally, the focus on the yuan and capital outflows has been intense ever since the foreign exchange regime change last August. The recent strength in the US dollar has put pressure on China’s external account, prompting the authorities to tighten capital controls and step up forex intervention. The US dollar/yuan could break the psychological level of 7.0 by the year-end, if the dollar rally continues apace.

Looking ahead to 2017, three themes are worth pondering for China watchers – growth, yuan and politics.

On growth, Beijing reiterated its growth target of 6.5 per cent for 2017 at the Central Economic Work Conference earlier this month.

This will serve as a binding constraint for economic policies in a year of leadership transition, where macro stability will be valued dearly.

But maintaining steady growth may not be an easy task. Two engines of the economy this year have been the rebound of the property market and strong fiscal spending. One of them is, however, set to sputter in 2017, as recent policy tightening cools the property market. With stable consumption and exports unlikely to revive strongly, the burden of growth support may once again fall on the official-sponsored infrastructure investment.

This, however, will come at a time when financing for infrastructure projects is expected to tighten, because of higher fiscal deficit, reduced land sales and rising interest rates. Also, marginal returns of these projects have declined, as more and more has already been built. In light of these implicit/explicit constraints, the push for infrastructure spending may become more challenging in the year ahead.

One potential bright spot in the economy could be private-sector investment, which has bottomed after years of growth declines. Recovering producer prices expanding margins and improved demand have led to a recovery in business confidence and profitability, leading to more incentives to invest. If this trend continues, private investment – accounting for 65 per cent of total fixed asset investment – could play an important role in stabilising growth in 2017.

The main risk for macro stability lies in the external account. Like 2015 and 2016, the yuan will likely remain a key focus of the market, and the authorities will want to keep conditions stable ahead of the Party Congress in the autumn. Steady normalisation of foreign exchange value is what Beijing wants to see, but with a porous capital account and market expectations becoming fluid, engineering a steady depreciation path for the yuan will be challenging in light of a strong dollar. Something will have to give between preserving near-term stability and liberalising the capital account. We think that, when push comes to shove, stability preservation will take priority, meaning that more capital controls and forex intervention will be deployed in times of market jitters.

Finally, politics will likely remain at the centre stage for the global market in 2017. Any changes brought by German and French elections will matter for China, given that close to 20 per cent of Chinese exports are earmarked for the European market. In the US, even though the election has finished, significant uncertainties about Donald Trump’s policies remain. In relation to China, Trump is unlikely to implement, in full, his hostile policies promised during the campaign, but even a selective execution of those policies could impact the economy and move the market. Hence, politically-induced market volatility will likely remain elevated in 2017.

Internally in China, a once-in-a-five-year turn of the political cycle will be marked by next year’s 19th Communist Party’s Congress. This is an important event to watch for two reasons. First, a major reshuffle of the senior leadership of the Communist Party will take place, as five of seven Politburo Standing Committee members are due to retire. Such a change at the very top of Chinese politics could bring policy changes for the coming years. Second, China is at a critical juncture of its economic development, confronting both internal challenges and external pressures from rising protectionism and populism globally. How will China tackle these challenges, for instance by continuing to reform or retreating back to the old model, will be a key focus of the market. The Party Congress, and its subsequent Plenums, are important avenues for the senior leadership to share their thoughts and set policies – recall that it was the Third Plenum after the 18th Party Congress that the current leaders revealed the blue print for reforming the economy.

[sOURCE:-South China mOrning Post]

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

A vitally-pertinent theme for Financial Markets moves into the spotlight this week with the December FOMCmeeting. A 25 basis point hike at this meeting is largely assumed; but more pressing will likely be how aggressive the bank may be looking to hike in 2017.

– Also of issue is the continuation of Yen-weakness along with the recent rise of British Pound-strength. With British inflation numbers to be released on Tuesday and a Bank of England meeting on Thursday, we’ll likely see considerable attention around GBP.

– If you’re looking for trading ideas, check out our Trading Guides.

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This is another week loaded with potential drivers for global markets. We hear from four major Central Banks, and we’ll see another major theme come to question with the release of British inflation numbers tomorrow. If you’d like a quick preview of the top three events for this week, we looked at that on Friday. For today’s article, we’re going to look at three of the most pressing price action themes for global markets as we head into this heavy week of data.

Dollar Strength

This is rather obvious and it’s been a pertinent driver in markets since the brisk-reversal posed in the Greenback on the night of the elections. What was first aggressive weakness in the U.S. Dollar, likely driven by the uncertainty of a Donald Trump presidency, turned into scalding strength that’s continued pushing the U.S. Dollar-higher for the better part of the past month.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

Chart prepared by James Stanley

This will be directly in the spotlight on Wednesday for the Federal Reserve’s December meeting. At this upcoming rate decision, a 25 basis point hike is largely assumed as a given, and this doesn’t even really appear to be up-for-debate. The bigger question is how many hikes the bank might be looking for in 2017 with their larger goal of ‘policy normalization.’

At the last Fed meeting in December, the bank hiked rates for the first time in over nine years. But when doing so – they also said that they were looking to hike a full four times in 2016; and for an environment that just saw considerable discord throughout 2015 as the bank tried to stage a single 25 basis point hike, this degree of ‘hawkishness’ for future rate policy seemed a bit out-of-place. Within two weeks of that rate hike and markets had already begun to collapse. And six weeks after that, Janet Yellen staged a rather pronounced pivot of dovishness at her twice-annual Humphrey Hawkins testimony; and this brought expectations for near-term rate hikes out of the Fed significantly-lower.

So, much like we saw in 2015, much of the year was spent debating the merit of a single 25 basis point hike. And also like 2015, now that we’re finally in the final month of the year and equity markets are remaining frothy, a hike at the Fed’s next meeting seems a near-certainty.

The big question now is whether the Fed gets carried away with all of this optimism when setting near-term expectations for rate moves in 2017 and 2018; as they did last December.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

Chart prepared by James Stanley

Yen Weakness

Another theme that’s become rather pronounced after U.S. elections has been the continuation of Yen-weakness. USD/JPY is up by +14.48% since the election night lows, and while we’ve seen a few cases of short-term resistance showing-up in the pair, each bout of resistance has been met by more-and-more buyers.

Given the veracity of the past month’s run, traders may be well-served by waiting for some element of resistance to show in order to let prices come-down in the effort of buying the next ‘higher low’ in the pair. We discussed such a strategy two weeks ago in the article, Yen: How to Work With the Trend that Barely Bends (JPY).

Such a resistance level may be coming into play on the morning here in USD/JPY, as the 2015 swing-low in USD/JPY is currently showing-up as near-term resistance. USD/JPY caught multiple iterations of support off of the 116.00 level last year. This year, this support level didn’t become broken until after the Bank of Japan made the surprising move to negative rates; at which point concerns were being raised that the Bank may be more-desperate than previously-thought if they were going to do something as radical as enact negative rates.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

Chart prepared by James Stanley

But after that surprising move to negative rates, the Japanese Yen strengthened mightily and continued to run for months until the ¥100.00-level came back-into play on the pair. And it took the better part of three months of support holding until bulls could finally re-take control of the situation, as driven by the ‘reflation trade’ around U.S. Presidential elections.

Now that ¥116.00 is coming back into play in USD/JPY, this can be a novel area for traders to take profits on prior long positions, and this could produce a pull-back type of scenario that could lead to the next ‘higher-low’ level of support. On the chart below, we’re looking at a potential area to watch for ‘higher-low’ support to develop in USD/JPY, using an approximate 40-pip zone around the ¥115.00-level in the pair.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

Chart prepared by James Stanley

British Pound Strength – Will Inflation (Continue to) Pave the Way?

Probably one of the more surprising events from the month of November was the strength seen in the British Pound. After spending months as one of the weakest currencies in the world, the British Pound stages a brisk-turnaround to rival the U.S. Dollar as one of the world’s strongest in the month of November.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

Chart prepared by James Stanley

But this had little to do with the election, as this was more-driven by the Bank of England’s pivot on inflation expectations. After Brexit, the Bank of England transmitted significant-dovishness as they triggered a ‘bazooka’ of QE while saying that monetary policy would remain as especially accommodative in the near-term. This led to a perfect storm of bearishness on GBP as the extreme uncertainty of Brexit was coupled with the extreme-dovishness from the Bank of England and there were really very few reasons to want to buy Sterling.

But it’s just when most of the world is looking for the same thing that something completely different happens; and as we were warning, the ‘sharp repricing’ in the value of the British Pound around Brexit was likely going to lead to inflationary pressure in the U.K. economy and, eventually, the Bank of England was going to have to take notice of this fact.

This happened in early November at the BoE’s Super Thursday batch of announcements, at which point GBP/USD broke above its prior swing-high at 1.2325, and then spent most of November putting in bullishprice action. And while the U.S. Dollar spent much of November staging a rampage of higher-prices, the British Pound remained a tick-stronger.

Tomorrow we get British inflation numbers for the month of November, and should this print above the expectation for 1.1% annualized growth, with 1.3% in core inflation (annualized) – the British Pound could continue to strengthen-higher.

Later in the week we hear from the Bank of England. There is scant expectation for any actual moves, and we have to wait until February for updated inflation forecasts. So the bigger driver here is likely going to be Mark Carney’s comments regarding how the bank might look to handle ‘inflation overshoots’ in the future. Or, to put it more simply, what is the bank going to do if inflation comes-in even higher than the more-aggressive inflation forecasts in the coming periods?

We outlined the near-term setup in Cable last week in the article, Constructively Bullish.

Dollar, Yen and GBP: Three Price Action Themes for This Week

[Source:-Daily FX]

Here is the world’s shortest IQ test, made up of just three questions

smarty.jpg

We are constantly seeking to understand, define and validate our existence.

Professional and DIY IQ tests are popular because they offer a formula that allows you to compare yourself to other people and see how average (or above average) your intelligence is.

The Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) is dubbed the world’s shortest IQ test because it consists of just three questions. It assesses your ability to identify that a simple problem can actually be harder than it first appears. The quicker you do this, the more intelligent you appear to be.

Here are the three questions:

1. A bat and a ball cost £1.10 in total. The bat costs £1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2. If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

Here is what a lot of people guess:

1. 10 pence

2. 100 minutes

3. 24 days

These answers would be wrong.

When you’re ready, scroll down for the correct answers, and how you get to them:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


1. The ball would actually cost 0.05 pence

If the ball costs X, and the bat costs £1 more, then it will be:

X+£1

Therefore

Bat+ball=X + (X+1) =1.1

Thus

2X+1=1.1, and 2X=0.1

X= 0.05


2. It would take 5 minutes to make 100 widgets. 

Five machines can make five widgets in five minutes; therefore one machine will make one widget in five minutes too.

Therefore if we have 100 machines all making widgets, they can make 100 widgets in five minutes.


3. It would take 47 days for the patch to cover half of the lake

If the patch doubles in size each day going forward, it would halve in size going backwards. So on day 47, the lake is half full.


 

In a survey of almost 3,500 people, 33 per cent got all three wrong, and 83 per cent missed at least one.

While this IQ test has its shortcomings – its brevity, and lack of variation in verbal and non-verbal reasoning – only 48 per cent of MIT students sampled were able to answer all three correctly.

[Source:- Indy 100]

Mark Traphagen Talks The Three Pillars of SEO

Mark Traphagen Talks The Three Pillars of SEO

Our last #SEJLive to promote our completely new SEO guide was with Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting to discuss SEO and how authority, relevance, and trust are important factors. Below is his live session and more on the topic he covered.

Watch more SEJ Live Sessions by viewing past sessions on our Facebook page.

This week, Mark answered questions from the SEJ community on the most important factors of SEO. He appeared LIVE on our Facebook page:

Some of The SEO Questions Mark Answered Include:

  • What factors do the search engines use to evaluate authority in ranking websites?
  • Does link building still work to rank higher?
  • Is social bookmarking dead?
  • Is PageRank still relevant? If so, when is it useful?
  • How does relevance come into play in terms of page ranks?
  • How effective is anchor text?
  • How do we create content that rank?
  • How can we build trust in SEO?
  • How do you roll out these strategies at Stone Temple Consulting?
  • How can social help increase a website’s rank?

To learn more from Mark, check out his chapter with co-author and fellow SEJ Live guide Eric Enge: The Three Pillars of SEO in our brand new complete SEO guide. There, you can also read the SEO guide in its entirety or download it as a PDF.

[Source:-SEJ]

 

Top Three Themes for Global Markets as We Approach Q4

The close of business today marks the end of Q3; and 75% of the way through the year we’ve already seen some very interesting themes develop. Below we look at three of the most pertinent themes as we turn the page into Q4.

– While US Presidential elections will likely dominate the headlines, the potential for this to be a ‘major’ market driver may be a bit overrated; as the Federal Reserve still has the potential to offset additional weakness, and monetary policy is still incredibly loose. A bigger potential concern may be banking stress in Europe.

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Tomorrow marks the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth; and when traders arrive at their desks on Monday morning, all new trades will be lined up for Q4, and 2016 has already been quite the eventful year. We started with threatening risk aversion just two weeks after the December rate hike. This was the first rate hike from the Federal Reserve in over nine years; but likely more pertinent to that risk aversion was the Fed’s expectation that they were going to raise rates a full four times in the calendar year of 2016. Midway through Q1 that risk aversion reversed aggressively around Chair Yellen’s comments pertaining to the possibility of negative rates or additional policy options should the Fed need to make moves to support markets again. And this helped to return strength in areas like Oil, Stocks and International currencies.

The Second Quarter brought us the Brexit referendum. Much of the lead-up to the vote was spent talking about how there was little chance that Britain would leave and, if they did, how catastrophic the situation might become. British voters went to the polls at the end of Q2 and elected to leave, and then we spent most of Q3 bantering about the details for actually executing the Brexit. As we enter Q4, that’s still very much up-in-the-air, and it doesn’t look as though Article 50 is going to be triggered in the next few months.

There are, however, some very pertinent themes for markets as we enter the final quarter of 2016, and in this article we’re going to delve into three of the more interesting with the biggest potential to produce ‘big’ moves.

European Banking Stress

Deutsche Bank has been in the news quite a bit lately. Just a couple of days ago we did a write-up on the background behind this situation in the article, Central Banks at Full Throttle, DB Starting to Wobble. But Deutsche isn’t the only European bank facing hard times. The second largest bank in Germany, Commerzbank, recently announced that they were going to layoff nearly 10,000 workers. And if we move out of the largest economy in the Euro Zone, the situation doesn’t necessarily improve as large banks in both Italy and Spain, critical European economies; continue to face similar albeit less-profound pressures. We had discussed the situation with Italian banks back in January, so this isn’t a ‘new’ development. But what has changed since January are ECB rates. As in, they’ve went deeper into negative territory, and this only adds more pressure on European banks as their standard business model of loaning funds out at higher rates that they’re able to borrow at sees margin compression with the flattened yield curve.

The big worry here isn’t just one bank getting hit. The bigger concern is a contagion effect; because banks trade with each other and if one major bank gets taken out, this can create a nasty cascade effect across markets as other banks get pinched by counterparty risk. If Bank A trades with Banks B-Z, and Bank A all of the sudden can’t meet their margins or capitalize their positions, then Banks B-Z are left holding the bag. Banks B-Z likely aren’t oblivious, and they’ll likely take note of the pinch created from Bank A not being able to meet their obligations, and Banks B-Z will probably tighten up their risk. This means less leverage, and less leverage means selling.

We had discussed this theme back in March as it looked as though the deluge in Oil prices might have the potential to create such an environment if the losses continued. But the losses didn’t continue, and Oil prices rallied by nearly 100% in a 4-month window, and the threat of this theme took a step back from the brink. But more recently the Department of Justice in the United States levied a $14 Billion fine to DB for improprieties during the housing boom/Financial Collapse. And this raised fresh questions about the sustainability of Deutsche and, in turn, the rest of the European banking sector.

So going into Q4 this is the top theme for markets to watch because, frankly, it can have the most firepower. It’s also going to be one of the most difficult to time and follow, as this is basically a liquid situation that will continue to morph and develop as there isn’t a template-response for the ECB to handle such situations.

The Two Largest Banks in Germany Are Facing Intense Pressure (DB and Commerzbank)

Top Three Themes for Global Markets as We Approach Q4

Chart prepared by James Stanley

US Presidential Elections

US Presidential elections this year are a mess. If you’ve had any exposure to American media over the past 16 months you’re likely well-aware of this fact. Many have said that one candidate will bring on massive changes that could spell huge economic downturns with trade embargos and walls going up; while there are a plethora of questions around the honesty, reliability and health of the other candidate.

But perhaps more to the point US Presidential elections appear to be taking a similar tone to the Brexit referendum; where so many in the world are so sure of what’s going to happen that they’re not only basing their assumptions on these unfounded predictions; they’re allowing them to shape their entire worldview. Many appear to be forgetting that Congress plays a pretty strong role in the US political structure, and a President is not a dictator. More normally, politics is a lot of talk with little actual ‘change.’ Just as we’ve seen with the Brexit referendum: It took about 13 hours for British voters to elect to leave the European Union, and not much has happened in the three months since as politicians try to decide how to even begin the negotiation discussions.

The concern around the upcoming US Presidential election appears to be more resultant of social media, echo chambers, safe spaces and curated news feeds – all shaping social voice and opinion around a key issue (like Brexit). So while the doom-and-gloom forecasts may be entertaining to read, like somewhat of a non-fiction version of the movie Mad Max, there is very little realistic basis to make such an assertion; and to the trader reality is all that matters because that’s what can move prices to your stop or, even worse, create a margin call.

So heading into Q4 we’ll likely see some element of volatility around US Presidential elections in the middle of the quarter (November 8th); but for this to be a truly ‘game-changing’ type of move, we’ll likely need to see some other theme(s) develop to make the consequences of what might actually happen worsen.

Should stocks sell-off around the US Presidential elections, this could bring on a ‘buy the dip’ type of setup, similar to what happened around the Brexit referendum; because Central Banks are likely not going to pull the punch bowl simply because they’re unhappy with who American voters put into office in November.

On the chart below, we’re looking at how the Brexit referendum impacted the S&P 500 compared to two of the prior periods of ‘worry’ in the prior fourteen months.

Top Three Themes for Global Markets as We Approach Q4

Chart prepared by James Stanley

The Fed – Are We Getting a Hike in December?

One of the more pervasive market-movers this year has been expectations around Federal Reserve rate hike plans. Coming into the year, the Fed expected to hike rates a full four times in 2016. That didn’t go over too well, and by March the Fed had already whittled that expectation down to two hikes for the remainder of the year.

In June we saw even more whittling, but this time to expectations beyond 2016; and in September we saw more of the same as the Fed downgraded expectations for rate hikes beyond this year. So while the bank came into the year super aggressive, they’ve spent much of the time being passive and loose with monetary policy expectations. While the bank has been saying that November is a ‘live meeting,’ meaning that they might actually hike, the fact that this rate decision is happening just one week ahead of Presidential elections makes that look very unlikely.

December, however, sees the bank bring out a fresh dot plot matrix, there’s a press conference, and this could be a much more opportune time for the Fed to pose that next hike; and they may be compelled to do so in order to keep market participants’ trust in forecasts and guidance.

But as we’ve seen of recent, the bigger issue isn’t likely a single 25-basis point rate hike. More pressing will be the bank’s outlook into the future, and whether they pose a repeat of last year by being exuberantly hawkish for a global market that may not be ready for even more tightening.

[Source:-Daily FX]