U.S. Dollar Gains Vs. GBP, EUR, CAD and AUD, Boosted by Rising Consumer Confidence


The Dollar Index (DXY) had quite a tumultuous day on Tuesday. Weaker-than-expected Preliminary GDP figures for the fourth quarter of 2016, which came in 0.2% lower at 1.9%, sent the DXY down to 100.78 by 10:00 a.m. EST.

However, a more upbeat CB Consumer Confidence reading for February - 114.8 vs. January’s 111.6 - sent the DXY rallying 0.61% to a 3-day high of 101.40 by the end of the trading session.

The DXY closed on Tuesday with a gain of 0.19%. The bullish momentum unleashed by the consumer confidence news was sufficient to boost the DXY above the resistance level at 101.20, which market participants have traded around since Wednesday of last week.


Today’s strong performance by the U.S dollar also had a sizable effect on major Forex pairs, particularly the USD/JPY, which rallied 1.08% off the day’s lows at 111.687 to a daily high of 112.905. The USD/JPY closed on Tuesday with a gain of 0.09%.

Other major currencies like the euro, British pound, Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, also posted losses vs. the greenback of 0.09, 0.5%, 0.91% and 0.21%, respectively.

Dollar bills photo by 401kcalculator


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HolyTransaction Integrates Anonymous Cryptocurrency Zcash


HolyTransaction, an online wallet provider that supports a variety of cryptocurrencies, integrated anonymity-focused digital currency, Zcash:
“We are very proud about this new implementation for storing safely this disruptive digital currency.”
Unlike other blockchain-based digital currencies, Zcash users can choose to obfuscate every detail of their transactions (sender, recipient and amount) - a feature not available on other top altcoins like Ethereum.

The Luxembourg-based service has been on an altcoin-adding spree since the start of the month. On Februray 9th, HolyTransaction added support for Gamecredits and Faircoin.

With the today’s addition of Zcash, HolyTransaction now supports a total of 21 unique digital currencies.

All HolyTransaction users are now able to transfer Zcash among each other without paying any additional fees. In addition to Zcash, HolyTransaction also supports DASH, however, Monero, another privacy-focused digital asset, has not been added yet.

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Two General Bytes DASH ATMs Go Online in Slovakia


The anonymity-focused cryptocurrency DASH, which became the third most valuable digital currency today when it reached a market capitalization of $229.2 million, recently got its first ATM machines in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The DASH-dispensing ATM is manufactured by General Bytes, and is owned by Slovakian fintech company, CryptoDiggers.

CryptoDiggers' ATM allows anyone to purchase DASH anonymously in amounts up to €5000 per transaction. The ATM applies a 3.7% fee on buys and a 2.4% fee on sell transactions. The new DASH ATM was installed inside the FreshMarket, located on Rožňavská 1a street, Bratislava.
"We placed one-way Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash ATM for you in Bratislava. We are looking forward to you," said CryptoDiggers on Twitter.


This ATM is one of two General Bytes machines to implement the recent software upgrade, which was released by the CryptoDiggers 4-person developer team, that enables DASH alongside Litecoin and Bitcoin.

A second CryptoDiggers DASH ATM also came online today in the OC Danubia Shopping marketplace in Bratislava, located on Panonska cesta 16 Street, according to CoinAtmRadar.

Including today's installations by the CryptoDiggers team, there are now three DASH-supporting ATMs in the world; the Cash2BTC ATM, located at the Bitcoin Center in NYC, also supports DASH, but it requires SMS verification and has 10% fees.

ATM image by CoinAtmRadar

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Forex.com Becomes Largest US FX Broker After GAIN Capital Transfers 47k American Clients from FXCM


GAIN Capital Holdings, owner of retail broker Forex.com, announced today it has successfully transferred 47,000 U.S.-based clients from FXCM, which recently rebranded to Global Brokerage Inc., over the weekend.

"In a short period of time, and with the help of the National Futures Association (NFA) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), we successfully transferred over 47,000 accounts to FOREX.com.,” said Glenn Stevens, CEO of GAIN Capital Holdings.

Stevens had promised all acquired FXCM clients a ‘seamless transfer’ in his last press statement, made on February 8th.

According to today’s press release, the newly acquired accounts are valued at $142 million.

The successful acquisition of FXCM’s American clientbase makes Forex.com the largest FX brokers in the United States.

On February 9th, GAIN Capital agreed to pay FXCM between $250 and $500 per American client, depending on various conditions. So, based on those figures, GAIN Capital may end up paying FXCM up to $23.5 million for the client list.

At press time, shares of GAIN Capital Holdings (NYSE:GACAP) are trading down 0.62% on the day at $8.00.

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U.S. Stocks Hit Record Highs on Monday as President Trump Looks to Boost Defense Spending


U.S. stocks were boosted to new all-time highs on Monday after several news outlets reported on a substantial increase in military spending by the Trump administration.

According to unnamed officials at the Office of Management and Budget, Trump's budget proposal seeks to ramp up defense spending to $54 billion.

A corresponding decrease in spending on non-defense programs, particularly foreign aid and agencies like the EPA, is also incorporated to make the budget revenue neutral.

On Friday, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president said his administration will preside over one of the “biggest military buildups in history.”

The unnamed official explained that a large portion of the spending will be directed to the Pentagon, according to a report by TheHill.

American stock rallied after Trump’s speech at CPAC last Friday, however, today, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average hit all-time highs of 2369.2 at 10:50 a.m. EST, and 20841.8 at 10:40 a.m. EST, respectively:


While the Dollar Index rallied simultaneously with equities on Friday, the dollar sold-off on Monday down to 100.69 - just 3 points away from Friday’s lows at 100.66:


NYSE building photo by Jonathan Gross

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British Pound Slides After Sturgeon Reportedly Seeks a Vote on 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum


The British pound sold-off in early trading on Sunday on reports that British authorities are preparing for a second Scottish independence referendum. The official ZeroHedge Twitter account tweeted the news at approximately 5:52 p.m. EST on Sunday:



The Tweet was in reference to an article by the Sunday Times, which claims that Nicola Sturgeon had a private meeting with the Scottish National Party to talk about a second referendum.

According to the Sunday Times, a call for a vote on a second referendum will be made next month, after the UK triggers Article 50 of the EU Treaty, which formally initiates Britain's exit from the EU.

Once the news spread, the pound sold-off close to 0.6% to a 9-day low of 1.23926 vs. the U.S. dollar:


Many prominent British news outlets - Independent and Daily Mail - reported last week on the very real possibility of a new Scottish independence vote due to the knock-on economic effects of a ‘hard’ Brexit, but all those reports speculated that the referendum could come sometime next year, not in a month.

Pounds photo by jo.sau

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Record Number of Bitcoin ATMs Installed in February Across the World


As the exchange rate for bitcoin climbed to an all-time high of $1220 in February, so has the number of BTMs (Bitcoin Teller Machines) across the globe.

Data from CoinAtmRadar shows that 68 new BTMs were installed in various countries this month, bringing the total amount of operational BTMs to 1028:


A large percentage of all BTMs are found in North America, particularly in Canada (140) and the United States (645). The second-highest monthly growth figure was recorded in August of last year, when 63 new teller machines came online.

In the United States, a large portion of BTMs are located in the big cities, according to CoinAtmRadar records; New York leads with 74; LA is home to 59; Atlanta has 62; Chicago comes in at 60; Washington has 43; Detroit has 35.

And in Canada, majority of BTMs are concentrated in the cities of Toronto (48), Montreal (35), Calgary (14) and Vancouver (18).

Based on readings from the last seven days, CoinAtmRadar calculates that 3.15 new Bitcoin ATMs are being installed on a daily basis!

Keypad photo by redspotted

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Stocks & U.S. Dollar Rally After President Trump's Speech at CPAC


The U.S. Dollar Index was lifted higher on Friday as President Trump delivered his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, held in Maryland.

Speaking in illegal immigration, President Trump said his policies are aimed at stemming the flow of drugs and criminals into the country, “We'll stop the drugs from pouring into our nation and poisoning our youth., he said.

The president also praised the work of men and women of law enforcement, ICE agents and immigration officials:
“We're getting the bad ones out: gang members, criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country.”
To bolster his anti-illegal immigration case, Trump lamented about the recent riots in Sweden and the multiple terrorist attacks in Germany and France, "Take a look at what is happening in Europe.," said the president.

On the economy, the president focused on pitching his tax reform initiative which promises to simplify the tax code, while slashing tax rates for corporations and individuals.



During his speech, the president blasted NAFTA, calling it “one of the worst trade deals ever made,” while also praising Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the many bad trade deals the United States has made over the years.

As for regulations, President Trump explained during his speech that “75% of the repetitive regulations” need to be removed, to make the regulatory structure more efficient and lean.

Trump’s CPAC address also laid emphasis on building up the military. He also said that a plan to “obliterate ISIS” is currently in the works:
"It will be one of the biggest military buildups in history. We believe in peace through strength."
U.S. financial markets responded favorably to the president’s speech. The S&P 500 recovered all opening loses and rallied 13.9 points (0.59%) towards the end of Friday’s trading session, closing with a 0.15% gain for the day:


After hitting a 4-day low of 100.66 at 8:30 a.m EST, the U.S Dollar Index (DXY) rallied 0.43% between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

As Trump took the podium at CPAC and gave his 2-hour speech, the DXY remained volatile, jumping between 100.90 and 101.09. Following the end of Trump’s speech at 12:15 p.m., the DXY rallied again to a high of 101.16 on the day.

The U.S. dollar closed on Friday with a gain of 0.27%:


Wall St. Bull photo by Sam Valadi

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EasyHits4U, Biggest Traffic Exchange in The World, Starts Accepting Bitcoin


In an email to clients, EasyHits4U, the biggest traffic exchange in the world, announced today it now accepts Bitcoin payments through Payza and SolidTrustPay.

EasyHits4U claims to have 1.27 million members across the globe. As of today, EasyHits4U users can purchase banner impression, text link advertising packages and credits with Bitcoin.


In email communique to clients, EasyHits4U also said other digital currencies are supported as well, but neither SolidTrustPay or Payza support alternative cryptos at this time.

“What's more — you can also pay with other cryptocurrencies including Litecoin, Etherium and many others using this option.,” says the EasyHits4U email.

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Bitcoin's Price Vaults to New Record of $1220 on 'ETF Optimism'; New Highs Also Reached in Euro, CAD and Japanese Yen


The price of Bitcoin rallied to an all-time high of $1220.00 at 11:35 p.m. EST on Thursday. Volume numbers from Coinmarketcap show the majority of volume fueling the record-breaking rally is coming from European, Chinese and American exchanges.

Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, accounted for 17.29% percent of volume ($39.1M) over the last 24h; OKCoin.cn handled about 8.12% (18.37M); European exchange Bitstamp accounted for 7.56% with a 24h volume of $17.1M; the BTC/EUR pair on San Francisco-based Kraken saw 6.43% of global turnover at 14.56M; another Chinese exchange, Huobi, took place #5 with 5.3% at $12M; and American exchange GDAX, which is operated by Coinbase, saw volumes of $11M, or 4.89% of global turnover.

Bitcoin’s exchange rate also hit a new record in Japanese yen, Canadian dollars and euros. On Canadian exchange QuadrigaCX, which has had the most CAD volume during today’s rally, the digital currency is trading at a new all-time high of $1630 per coin, at press time.

And on Kraken’s BTC/EUR pair, the price of Bitcoin reached a record €1147.23 around midnight on Thursday:


Investor optimism regarding the highly-anticipated Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF reached new heights today after the SEC revealed that a meeting between the Winklevoss brothers and several SEC officials, along with other representatives of Winklevoss’ firm Digital Asset Services, had taken place on February 14th:

“The discussion concerned Bats BZX Exchange, Inc.’s proposed rule change to list and trade, pursuant to BZX Rule 14.11(e)(4), shares issued by the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust.,” the Memorandum said.

Coin photo by Zach Copley

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Turkish Lira Rises to 51-Day High vs. the Greenback, Recoups 9.7% of Losses Related to Trump's Election


The National Bank of Turkey sent the Turkish lira (TRY) higher against the U.S. dollar by 0.72 percent last Friday when it said exporters using the rediscount credits program could pay back their loans in lira.

Since last Friday, the lira has continued to strengthen (+3.4%). And today, the Turkish national currency hit a 51-day low of 3.55603.

The USD/TRY exchange rate was also pushed in Turkey’s favour this week by a relatively stable U.S. Dollar Index, which sold-off on Wednesday and Thursday down to 100.90 (unchanged since last Friday).

The lira, like the Mexican peso, suffered big losses in the days and weeks following the U.S. presidential election.

By January 11, 2017, the lira hit an all-time low of 3.941. Although the lira has recovered some of those losses - 9.73% since January 11th - the Turkish currency is still down 12.7% against the greenback:


Flags photo by Victoria Pickering

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Cryptocurrency Storj Spikes 90% on News of $3M Seed Funding from Google Ventures & Other VCs


The digital currency (SJCX) of the blockchain-based cloud storage network Storj, posted significant gains (+90 percent) today after the startup announced it had raised $3 million in seed funding from venture capitalists in Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Techstars, among other Angel investors and VC firms.

The new funding round comes on the heels of another investment in January of this year: a $100k Grant from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Today’s announcement brings the total amount of VC capital funneled into Storj over the past three years to $5.4 million:

-$500k of Non Equity Assistance in August of 2014
-$1.8M is seed funding in May of 2016 from TechSquare Labs.
-Iterative Instinct invested an undisclosed amount in October of 2016.
-$100k in January of 2017.
-$3M in February of 2017.

The 7-person startup is aiming to disrupt the centralized, uncesecure cloud storage industry by creating a decentralized marketplace where storage providers, called “farmers,” are able to offer their free storage space in exchange for digital tokens (SJCX).

"The decentralized aspect of Storj means there are no central servers to be compromised, and because of the use of client-side encryption, only the end users have access to their unencrypted files and encryption keys.," said Shawn Wilkinson, Founder and Lead Developer at Storj.

According to the press release, Storj has amassed 7,500 farmers since launching in 2014.

Storj Labs Inc., also went into partnership with Heroku Elements Marketplace in November of last year, and announced its first first Fortune 500 client, Atlanta-based COX Enterprises, during the Venture Atlanta 2016 conference.

Digital currency investors reacted favorably to today’s announcement, sending the exchange rate of the SJCX/BTC pair to a 69-day high of 0.00021 ($0.24) on the Poloniex exchange:


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Mexican Peso Trading at its Highest in 2017 Against Dollar; Volatility to Spike as Tillerson Meets with Officials in Mexico City


Mexico’s currency, the peso, has strengthened considerably against the U.S. dollar this month, despite increasingly hostile rhetoric and anti-migrant policies coming out of the Trump administration.

At 9:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, the peso hit a 103-day high of 19.66036 vs. the greenback.

When measured against today’s high, the peso has appreciated roughly 6.4% in February. And since January 11th, when peso hit an all-time low of 22.04 against the dollar, Mexico’s currency has gained 10.7%.

While the peso’s gains in 2017 have been impressive, the currency has still not recouped losses incurred on the day of President Trump’s election (November 9, 2016) when the USD/MXN exchange rate shot up from 18.31 to 19.84.

The Mexican peso was also boosted considerably on Tuesday, spiking more than 2% vs. the dollar, after Mexico’s central bank announced a special $20 billion FX hedging program to curb excessive volatility in the currency markets - particularly the USD/MXN exchange rate:


Mexico’s currency is trading at a high for 2017, but volatility in the USD/MXN pair is set to spike later today as US Secretary of Sate Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and other top-level officials in Mexico City.

This is the first meeting between high-level Mexican and U.S. officials since President Nieto canceled his meeting with President Trump on January 27th over disagreements regarding the border wall.

Yesterday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer explained today’s meeting are important for preserving cultural and economic ties between the two countries by “combating drug traffickers and finding ways to bolster both our economies through a broader relationship that promotes commerce and legal immigration.,” said Spicer.

Thursday’s discussions will also focus on the renegotiation of NAFTA, which could have significant long-term implications for the Mexican economy and the peso.

Mexican Flag photo by Esparta Palma

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Bitfinex Hacker Moving Stolen Bitcoin Again; Evidence of Tumbling/Mixing


The hacker who stole 120k Bitcoin from Hong Kong-based exchange Bitfinex on August 2nd of 2016, has continued moving a portion of their loot across the Bitcoin network this month.

This is the hacker’s first attempt at neutralizing the ability of professional blockchain forensics firms and law enforcement agencies to track the stolen coins.

While the hacker’s first move on Jan. 26, 2017, was Tweeted by Bitfinex and received plenty of coverage from many financial news outlets, maneuvers over the past few days have gone mostly unreported.

For instance, address 1J5fP2e7o5iUNjniSZmjUx8CPLhmatHXBo received a tiny fraction (22.42 BTC) of stolen Bitfinex coins from 5 separate address during the first move on the 26th, but on Jan. 30th, the hacker moved those coins to 13gpVm1CmuqQcaM4oMhvHYBR78WhZ772WJ.

On the same day, the coins were split into two portions and sent to two new addresses, where they remained stationary until February 20th:

For the last two days, these coins have been split into ever-smaller portions and are continuously being distributed & shuffled to an ever-increasing amount of addresses on the Bitcoin network.

Similar patterns have been observed in other Bitcoin addresses holding funds connected to the Bitfinex theft - and there are many!

A post on Pastebin, made by Bitfinex, shows that the hacker diverted the stolen Bitcoin to 2072 different addresses, but only 876 BTC of the 120K were moved during the first action on Jan. 26th.

Curiously, the obfuscation attempt over the last two days coincides with the hype surrounding Bitcoin’s rise above $1100. It’s also worth noting that these crafty maneuvers began right around the time Bitfinex came under a heavy DDoS attack.

At today's exchange rate, the stolen Bitcoin is worth north of $130 million.

Code photo by Yuri Samoilov

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SurBitcoin, Venezuela's Largest Bitcoin Exchange, to Resume Operations After Bank Account Closure


SurBitcoin, one of Venezuela’s most popular digital currency exchanges, said today it will be resuming services soon.

The Venezuelan startup was forced to halt operations at the start of this month due to complications with their bank.

Banesco Banco Universal - the financial institution processing fiat currency transactions for SurBitcoin’s clients - unexpectedly decided to stop providing banking services on February 3rd, telling SurBitcoin their bank account was to be closed that same day.

In today’s statement to clients, SurBitcoin explained why it took so long to find a new financial partner:
"Due to bureaucratic procedures on the part of the bank, the process has taken longer than expected."
Based on ongoing negotiations between SurBitcoin management and the new bank, normal operations are expected to resume sometime next week.

Although SurBitcoin has not revealed any specifics on the new partnership, the exchange said that pending withdrawal requests made up to the Banesco shutdown are still being processed manually by BBVA Provincial Bank, which has imposed daily limits on outgoing transfers.

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New Zealand Dollar Lifted Higher vs. U.S. Dollar by FOMC Meeting Minutes


The New Zealand dollar hit a 5-day high vs. the greenback of 0.71992 on Wednesday. The NZD/USD currency pair gained 0.71% in the hours following the release of the Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Key highlights from the FOMC meeting in January:

-Economic conditions and labour markets continued to strengthen in last quarter of 2016.
-Unemployment rate is near recent lows.
-Household spending rises moderately.
-Inflation has increased over the last few quarters, but still remains below 2% target.
-Market participants feel uncertain about fiscal and regulatory policies.
-Emerging market currencies remain strong as investors see improving economic growth.
-Real Q4 GDP expanded at a “moderate rate.”
-Unemployment rate for African Americans and for Hispanics remained above the rate for whites.
-Consumer spending on vehicles increased considerably in Q4 of 2016.
-Sales of existing homes “increased modestly,” but new home sales dropped.
-Foreign real GDP showed decrease in the last quarter.
-Economic growth in the UK and the EU continues at “solid” pace.
-China economic growth rate is steady, but a slowdown is observed in Asian emerging economies and Mexico.
-Domestic financial conditions remain little changed since previous meeting.
-Markets estimate 70 percent probability of the next interest rate increase to take place before FOMC's June meeting.
-Equities remained at elevated levels as market participants forecast increased corporate profits due to new policies.

The FOMC meeting minutes provided sufficient momentum to lift the NZD/USD exchange rate above the key technical area between 0.7170 to 0.7175, which has been viewed by market participants as an important barrier.

However, there wasn’t enough buyers to vault the pair above 0.72 mark.


NZD Flag photo by Ronnie Macdonald

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Venezuelan Bolivar Continues to Decline on the Black Market; Venezuelans Turn to Bitcoin to Escape Devaluation


Bitcoin’s popularity has continued to increase in Venezuela as the black market exchange rate of the bolivar is approaching all-time lows again.

Although the TPTB in Venezuela have attempted to dissuade their countrymen from using the digital currency via a highly-publicized raid of a Bitcoin mining farm in January, in addition to the takedown of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, SurBitcoin, at the beginning of February, Venezuelans have continued to flock to the borderless digital asset through online marketplace, LocalBitcoins.

Last week, tech-savvy Venezuelans bought and sold 17.1 million bolivars (new record) worth of Bitcoin on LocalBitcoins, according to readings from Coin.dance, which charts weekly turnover on LocalBitcoins in different countries.

Activity on LocalBitcoins in Venezuela has been on the rise since September of last year.

In fact, the rise correlates closely with the hyperinflationary crash of the Venezuelan bolivar on the black market. The bolivar began to depreciate very rapidly in September of 2016, hitting an all-time low of 4,587 bolivars per dollar by Dec 1st, 2016.

Bolivar price chart by Venezuelaecon.com

While the black market rate dipped down to 2,500 bolivars by December 17th, the bolivar has traded lower and lower against the dollar since the start of this year. Today, it costs around 4,276 bolivars to obtain one U.S. dollar on the Venezuelan black market.

Venezuelan flag photo by Alejandro Alarcon

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Disappointing Retail Sales Push Canadian Dollar to 15-Day Low Against U.S. Dollar


The Canadian dollar continued to slide on Wednesday due to weak retail sales data. Statistics Canada said today both retail and core retail sales, which exclude sales of automobiles, declined in December of 2016 by 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively.

Key Highlights:

Auto parts dealer sales: -0.9%
Auto parts sales at retail outlets: +18.2%
Used car dealer sales: +1.6%
Food and beverage store sales: -0.4%
Wine and liquor store sales: -3.6%
Gas station sales: +6.6%
Hardware store sales: +0.7%
Electronics and appliance store sales: -2.3%
Jewellery store sales: -12.4%
Clothing store sales: -3.7%
Sportings goods, book and music store sales: -0.5%

Statistics Canada data for December also showed sales declining in eight Canadian provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Although overall retail sales declined in Canada, E-commerce sales reached an all-time high of 1.7 billion in December, accounting for a total of 3.4% of all retail sales.

Online sales were particularly strong during the holiday season, “Leading up to the holiday shopping season, on-line sales surged in November ($1.5 billion), which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Statistics Canada.

The 0.5 percent decline in December retail sales - the first in four months - pushed the CAD to a 15-day low of 1.32099 against the USD on Wednesday. Since February 16, 2017, Canada’s currency has declined by approximately 1.54 percent against the dollar:


The USD/CAD currency pair is now trading near the highs from February 7th, and it remains to be seen if today’s poor retail sales figures push the pair higher by the end of the week.

Canadian $5 bill photo by Charlton Clemens

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Bitcoin Exchange Bitfinex Comes Under DDoS Attack After Price of Bitcoin Surges Above $1100


Popular cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex came under DDoS attack on Tuesday. Hong Kong-based Bitfinex has sent out several emails to its clients to inform them of the disruption, but the exchange is currently accessible - albeit only after visitors undergo a check by DDoS protection service, Cloudflare:
“We have taken steps to identify and block the attack. The system is returning to normal.,” said Bitfinex.

The timing of the attack coincides with Bitcoin’s unrelenting rally towards new all-time highs. At press time, the digital currency is trading at $1125 - only about $15.00 away from taking out the January high at $1139.89 - on Luxembourg-based exchange, Bitstamp.

Over the last several weeks, Bitfinex has become the top bitcoin exchange in the world based on daily volume. Coinmarketcap rankings show that 16.69% of global bitcoin turnover has passed though Bitfinex in the last 24h.


Bitfinex overtook the top three Chinese exchanges - BTCChina, OKCoin and Huobi - after warnings issued by the PBoC forced many trading venues domiciled in China to halt cryptocurrency withdrawals, which also sent many investors fleeing to P2P marketplaces like LocalBitcoins.

Hacker image by Brian Klug

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Mexican Peso Soars as Mexico's Central Bank Unveils $20 Billion Forex Hedging Program


The Mexican peso surged to a 3-month high of 19.92898 against the dollar on Tuesday. The dramatic move in the peso was triggered by Banco de Mexico's surprise announcement regarding the launch of a $20 billion hedging program, which is aimed at curbing excessive volatility in the currency markets.

At the request of the Exchange Commission, the body responsible for exchange rate policy in the country, the Mexican central bank will be allowing financial institutions to purchase exchangeable hedges, which will be payable at maturity, from the central bank via an auction.

The first auction is scheduled to take place on March 6th, 2017, with a total of $1 billion up for grabs.

Banco de Mexico explains the offering:
"The latter feature of the instruments will make it possible to hedge against foreign exchange risks, without using international reserves."
Mexican banks will also be able to then sell these instruments to different market participants, "in this way, the agents and sectors that need them the most will be able to acquire foreign exchange hedges of this type," said Banco de Mexico.

As the Mexican central bank puts it: the volatility of the USD/MXN currency pair has been out of control, and has not accurately reflected the “economic fundamentals” of the Mexican economy.

According to the press release, the new currency hedges will have a maximum maturity of no more than 12 months.

“The Bank of Mexico will renew the totality of the maturities of these instruments until such time as the Exchange Commission deems it appropriate.,“ said the bank.

The Exchange Commission also said additional instruments may be launched in the future to combat currency volatility:
“The Exchange Commission ratifies its commitment to monitor the conditions of the foreign exchange market and does not rule out the possibility of additional actions.”
The currency markets reacted very violently to the news. Prior to the announcement, at 2:00 p.m. EST, the USD/MXN pair was trading at 20.40. Fifty minutes later, the USD/MXN was trading lower by 2.32% (a gain of 2.32 percent for the peso) at 19.92898.

At press time, the peso has given up some of the gains and is currently trading at 20.05 to the U.S dollar:


Bance de Mexico photo by Richard Cawood

FXCM Files SEC Forms to Rebrand, Another Leucadia Executive Appointed to FXCM Board of Directors


FXCM exited the U.S. retail Forex industry this month due to hefty penalties from the CFTC for illegally profiting from its clients via a secret market maker program, but today the the embattled broker filed paperwork with the SEC to rebrand.

According to the filing, FXCM is changing its name to Global Brokers Inc (Ticker:GLBR). Shares of FXCM will continue to trade on NASDAQ under the new symbol. The new name is effective as of February 27, 2017.

FXCM founders Dror Niv and William Ahdout, who were involved in the secret market maker scheme, announced their resignations from FXCM’s Board of Directors today.

Brendan Callan, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of FXCM’s European division since 2010, has been appointed to Chief Executive Officer of FXCM Group.

According to the press release, Managing Director of Leucadia National Corporation, Jimmy Hallac, was appointed today to Chairman of FXCM Group.

As of today, FXCM’s six-member Board of Directors contains three Leucadia executives: Jimmy Hallac, Rich Handler, CEO of Leucadia, and Brian Friedman, President of Leucadia.

At press time, FXCM shares are trading at $2.75 - about $0.05 away from the all-time low at $2.70, recorded on February 15, 2017.

FXCM image via Twitter

Bitcoin Exchange Rate Surges to $1090; Monero, Ethereum & Other Top Altcoins Decline


Bitcoin’s surprise surge from $1060 to $1090 on Monday, which took place between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. EST, caused sizable drops in many of the top alternative digital currencies.

Anonymity-oriented cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) sold-off close to 6.5%. Another privacy-focused coin, DASH, which hit an all-time high of $23.88 yesterday, dropped about 4.6%.

The second most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum (ETH), sold-off from $12.78 down to $12.25 (-4.16%) around the same time Bitcoin was rallying to $1090. The 3rd most valuable crypto, Ripple (XRP), saw similar losses as Ethereum, dropping by 4.06%.

Factoids (FCT), tokens of the Factom blockchain-based records storage network and the 13th most valuable digital asset, also sustained heavy losses of 11.5% between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m EST.

Another decentralized file storage asset, MaidSafeCoin (Maid), which hit record market capitalization of 97.2 million on Feb. 9th, 2017, also saw declines of approximately 5.6%.

Interestingly, some of the other top alternative digital currencies did not experience the severe crashes seen on Monero, Ethereum and Factom. For instance, Litecoin (LTC) only declined by about 2%:


At press time, there are no breaking news announcement that would explain away Bitcoin’s price surge. However, two days ago, the difficulty of the Bitcoin network jumped 4.41% to a new record, which has the effect of shrinking the amount of coins going into miners’ pockets!

Wall Street bull photo by Nathaniel Zumbach

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EUR/USD Remains Rangebound on President's Day as EU Consumer Confidence Estimate Slides


The EUR/USD Forex pair remained in a tight trading range today as the flash Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for February dropped in the European Union as well as the euro area. The CCI metric is derived from surveying 2300 consumers from 27 EU countries.

Respondents are asked about their current financial situation, personal spending habits, and other pertinent information.

The European Commission states:
“In February 2017, the DG ECFIN flash estimate1 of the consumer confidence indicator2 decreased in both the euro area (by 1.4 points to -6.2) 3 and the EU (by 0.9 points to -5.2) compared to January 2017.“
After losing ground against the U.S. dollar on Friday (-0.62%), the euro has traded in a tight range on Monday, hovering between 1.0605 and 1.0629 for most of the day. Today’s low volatility in the euro was also caused in part by the closure of American financial markets due to President’s Day:


Euro coin photo by Alf Melin

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Golem, The Ethereum-Powered Decentralized Supercomputing Cryptocurrency, Slides After Debut on Poloniex Exchange


The token of the Ethereum-based decentralized supercomputer network Golem (GNT), debuted on the largest altcoin exchange, Poloniex, on Saturday (Feb. 18, 2017).

The GNT/BTC exchange rate briefly hoovered around its all-time high of 0.00005621 as trading began on Poloniex, however, over the past two days, the price of the token has continued to slide closer to its pre-debut range of 0.00002 - 0.000023.


The Polish-based 13-person developer team behind the Golem Network held a very successful crowdfunding campaign on November 11th of last year, raising 820k Ether (approximately $8.6 million) to complete the ambitious project that is said to have the potential to revolutionize industries like distributed scientific computing, A.I., cryptography and CG.

The open-source Golem project essentially aims to create a fully decentralized, global economy where hardware owners that have spare computing capacity can profit by leasing their unused CPU cycles to individuals/corporations looking for large amounts of processing power.

“Eventually, combined with advances in other cutting edge technologies like IPFS/Filecoin, Whisper, DEVp2p, Swarm, and Ethereum, it will replace the huge data centers that currently power the internet,” says Golem on their blog.

Currently, the Golem project is in alpha stage and resource providers can earn GNT tokens for completing Blender renderings.

At press time, the Golem token is down 12.59 percent on the day and its market capitalization stands at $19.88 million. Rankings on Coinmarketcap show GNT is currently the 18th most valuable digital currency in the world.

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Chinese Bitcoin Investors Pour Into LocalBitcoins, Volumes Explode Past 36 Million CNY


Fresh data from Coin.dance, which keeps track of turnover in various countries on cryptocurrency marketplace LocalBitcoins, shows a monstrous surge in trading activity coming out of China.

There was a notable increase in LocalBitcoins trading two weeks ago, when Chinese exchanges first began halting withdrawals of clients’ digital currency deposits as the People’s Bank of China began its crackdown.

However, last week’s turnover figure of 36,214,090 Chinese yuan dwarfs previous weekly readings:


When converted to U.S. dollars at current exchange rates, this figured amounts to $5,273,180. The total amount of actual Bitcoin changing hands in China also hit a new record of 4,999.

For the week ending on February 11th, 2017, only 922 bitcoin were traded in China on LocalBitcoins. This was a new record at the time, but minuscule compared to last week’s figure!

The excessive volume readings over the past two weeks are definitive proof that many Chinese cryptocurrency investors have abandoned the large exchanges in favor of person-to-person trading venues, where exchange requirements & prices vary from seller to seller.

Coinmarketcap ranking stats show that since the start of the PBoC crackdowns and warnings, major Chinese exchanges like BTCC, Huobi and OKCoin have accounted for less and less of global Bitcoin trading.

Chinese flag photo by Craig Nagy


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Privacy Crypto DASH Surges 10% to All-Time High of $23.88


Privacy-centric digital currency DASH - the sixth most valuable cryptocurrency in the world - rallied 10% today to an all-time high of $23.88. At approximately 11:40 EST on Sunday, the DASH/BTC exchange rate on U.S.-based exchange Poloniex hit a 176-day high of 0.0227.

The novel digital asset was in a downtrend during the second half of last year, hitting a low price of 0.01 on December 23, 2016. But several technical improvements, growing network security (hashrate/masternodes) and rising adoption have propelled the value of DASH upward during the first 45+ days of 2017.

The market capitalization of the DASH network also hit an all-time high today: $168.74 million, according to Coinmarketcap.

The hashrate of the DASH blockchain, which is secured by the X11 algorithm, has been steadily rising since July of 2016, growing to a record 2.6731 Th/s on January 24, 2017 (5x increase since July 4th).

Investor confidence in privacy-focused DASH has been bolstered by strong network growth metrics, however, investor interest soared after Czech-based Bitcoin ATM manufacturer, General Bytes, announced support for DASH on their BATMTwo and BATMThree ATM models on February 10th.

At present, there are 162 General Bytes ATMs installed in various countries. General Bytes’ teller machines currently make up 16.06 percent of all Bitcoin ATMs installed in the world, according to data by CoinAtmRadar.

While DASH is not supported by default on General Bytes ATMs, individual vendors can choose to support DASH via an upgrade from CryptoDiggers Team, a European blockchain services firm.

Furthermore, General Bytes also launched a DASH Thunderclap campaign on Twitter to get the word out about the ATM upgrade.

At press time, the DASH/BTC rate has retraced from its 176-day high of 0.0227 down to 0.0217:


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