Friday, March 18, 2011

Breakout Exclusive: Jim Rogers May Buy U.S. Dollar as It Nears "Tipping Point"

Here's another sneak peek ahead of the launch of Yahoo! Finance's new daily trading and investing show, "Breakout," which launches next week.

Internationally renowned investor Jim Rogers told "Breakout" hosts Matt Nesto and Jeff Macke that he's considering buying the U.S. dollar now, but with a catch.

"We're at a moment of truth for the dollar," he says.

Rogers, who is currently long the yen, notes that the dollar has been declining despite events that would normally trigger a global flight to safety.

He says that if the dollar holds here it could rally as much as 20%, but "if it goes down 3% or 4% from here, I would have to sell and get out and hope I'm still solvent."

Rogers sees a decline in the dollar to historic "multi-multi decade new lows" as a long-term inevitability, but says the time frame for a collapse in the greenback may be sooner than previously thought.

"Somewhere along the line we're going to have a tipping point for the dollar, then it's all over," he offered. "I thought it would happen in a few years; maybe it's going to happen in a few weeks."

Oversold: 10 'Coiled Spring' Stocks : AKAM, CSCO, DRYS, FNSR, GS, HIG, HPQ, MGM, NTRI, RAS

With the recent volatility in the markets and the correction due to the Japan crisis, some stocks have been hit very hard recently. This has created some potential buying opportunities. The stocks below are trading at valuations that might be a real buying opportunity. Some of these stocks fell on earnings disappointments, which often create exaggerated, temporary drops in the share prices. Others are down due to a number of issues, including the recent market correction.
Famed investor Doug Kass said on CNBC yesterday that the stock market in general is oversold, due to the crisis in Japan. Oversold stocks and markets can rebound sharply for many reasons, including a return to normal valuations and/or short covering.
These shares have reasonable PE ratios, strong balance sheets and are oversold. In particular, I am looking at earnings and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) levels which can indicate oversold conditions. Stocks with an RSI rating around 30 or below can signal that the shares are oversold and due for a rebound. Stocks with an RSI rating around 70 or more can be considered overbought.
Some of these companies are down so hard that they may rebound sharply, like a coiled spring. Here are the companies, which all have RSI levels in the 30s or below. Some are even under 20 now:
RAIT Financial Trust (RAS): Shares are trading at $2.26. These shares have an RSI of 29, which indicates the shares are oversold. RAIT is a real estate investment trust. The stock dropped hard early this week from about $3, when the company announced an offering of $100 million in convertible notes. The 50-day moving average is $3 and the 200-day moving average is $2.12.
Hewlett Packard (HPQ): Shares are trading at $40.14. These shares have an RSI of 27, which indicates the shares are oversold. HPQ is a leading technology company with products ranging from computers to printers. It reported earnings that disappointed the market and shares dropped, then dropped further due to the issues in Japan. The 50-day moving average is $45.30 and the 200-day moving average is $43.41. Earnings estimates for HPQ are just over $5 per share in 2011 and $5.69 for 2012.
Hartford Financial (HIG): Shares are trading at $24.75. These shares have an RSI of about 30, which indicates the shares are oversold. HIG is a leading insurance company. HIG's shares have fallen with the markets and also due to concerns about policies it has in Japan. The 50-day moving average is $28.37 and the 200-day moving average is $24.62. Earnings estimates for HIG are $3.80 per share in 2011. HIG pays a dividend of about 40 cents per share, which is equivalent to a yield of 1.5%.

Akamai Technologies, Inc. (AKAM): Shares are trading at $34.96. These shares have an RSI of about 19, which indicates the shares are very oversold. AKAM is a leading Internet service company that helps accelerate and deliver website content. It reported earnings that disappointed the market; the shares then fell further with the markets. The 50-day moving average is $44.04 and the 200-day moving average is $46.24. Earnings estimates for AKAM are just over $1.60 per share in 2011 and $1.83 for 2012.

MGM Resorts (MGM): Shares are trading at $12.33. These shares have an RSI of about 29, which indicates the shares are oversold. MGM is a major hotel and casino company based in Las Vegas. The 50-day moving average is $14.75 and the 200-day moving average is $12.30. Earnings estimates for MGM are for a loss of about 62 cents per share in 2011.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO): Shares are trading at $17.05. The RSI is 19, which indicates the stock is very oversold. Cisco is a premier networking hardware company that saw its shares fall on earnings results. The shares currently trade well below the 50-day moving average of $19.86 and the 200-day moving average of $21.36. Cisco has announced plans to pay a dividend in 2011, which could be a catalyst for these shares. CSCO now trades for about 10 times earnings which I think is a long term bargain.

Dry Ships (DRYS): Shares are trading at $4.50. These shares have an RSI of 28, which indicates the shares are oversold. Dry Ships operates drybulk ships and drilling rigs. The stock has dropped from about $5 per share. The 50-day moving average is $5.02 and the 200-day moving average is $4.71. The earnings estimates for DRYS are 91 cents for 2011.

Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., (GS): Shares are trading at $154.38. These shares have an RSI of about 32, which indicates the shares are oversold. Goldman Sachs is a major investment banking company based in New York. The 50-day moving average is about $165.20 and the 200-day moving average is $154.55. Earnings estimates for GS are $16.84 per share in 2011.

Nutrisystems, Inc. (NTRI): Shares are trading at $13.19. These shares have an RSI of about 29, which indicates the shares are oversold. Nutrisystems provides weight-loss plans. The 50-day moving average is $17.75 and the 200-day moving average is $19.41. Earnings estimates for NTRI are 46 cents per share in 2011.

Finisar Corp. (FNSR): Shares are trading at $22.88. These shares have an RSI of about 25, which indicates the shares are very oversold. Finisar manufactures networking equipment. The 50-day moving average is $35.06 and the 200-day moving average is $22.46. Earnings estimates for FNSR are $1.55 per share in 2011.

The data is sourced from Yahoo Finance. The information and data are believed to be accurate, but no guarantees or representations are made. Rougemont is not a registered investment advisor and does not provide specific investment advice. The information contained herein is for informational purposes.

Triple Your Profits When the Market Reverses

Direxion Daily Technology Bull 3X Shares (NYSE: TYH) — This highly leveraged exchange-traded fund (ETF) attempts to mirror three times the daily results of the Russell 1000 Technology Index.

The major indices have broken both near and intermediate support zones. But the downturn is rapidly approaching the major November-December breakout zone. Historically, zones like this have provided support for the broad market and should be used as trading platforms.

Buy TYH on a further thrust lower and evidence of a market reversal. Support at $40 would be an ideal level to take new positions with a rebound target of $47 to $52.

Leveraged ETFs seek to deliver multiples of the performance of a benchmark, but returns over longer periods will likely differ in amount and even direction. These products require active daily monitoring and management. They are not suitable for all investors, and stop-loss orders should be used to protect against losses.

The Trade of the Day is not a fee-based managed portfolio service, so traders must actively manage their own buy and sell prices.

Trade of the Day - Direxion Daily Technology Bull 3X Shares (NYSE: TYH)

The world's greatest silver stock could soon be even better

With silver prices expected to continue to rise over the next few years, Silver Wheaton (SLW.TO: Quote) sees the possibility of paying out around half its cash flow each year in dividends, its chief executive said.

"I don't see any reason why in the future we couldn't be paying out 40, 50 or 60 percent of our cash flow every year in dividends," Peter Barnes said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the PDAC prospectors and developers conference.

"If we can take this company to cash flows of $2 billion or $3 billion a year," he added. "It'll be tough to spend that amount of money on new deals all the time."

Silver Wheaton expects to have over $700 million in cash flows this year. Even if the company doesn't do a single new deal, it will grow 80 percent over the next five years, said Barnes.

The Vancouver-based company pays cash upfront to mining companies in exchange for future silver offtake. It has seen its shares more than double in the last twelve months.

Last week, Silver Wheaton announced an inaugural dividend of 3 cents a share.

"Until now, we've been a pure growth story and investors have really liked it," said Barnes. "I think now we're becoming growth and yield, and I think investors are going to like it even more."

With cash costs of just $4 an ounce, and spot silver near 31-year highs at $35 an ounce, Silver Wheaton is reaping the benefits of soaring metal prices and Barnes doesn't see that changing any time soon.

"I think silver is going through $50 in the next two or three years," he said. "Therefore, our cash flows are going to continue to do very well."


With silver prices high, it would seem logical that miners would want to keep the silver offtake from their mines, and turn to the debt and equity markets for financing instead.

Not so, said Barnes.

"We're getting a lot more opportunities now to do more deals than we've ever had before," he said.

"If you look at what makes the most sense for a company, nine times out of 10, streaming makes more sense," he added. "Its less risky."

When a company issues shares, it dilutes the value for each shareholder. If a company takes out debt, then it is stuck with high interest payments and could be in trouble if the metal market collapses.

Silver Wheaton is also attractive to smaller mining companies because it pays out cash now for silver from projects that won't be in production for another few years.

"Just because the silver price is $35 now doesn't mean its staying there for 50 years," said Barnes. "At some stage, it's going to go down, just as quickly as it has gone up."

Because of that volatility, Barnes said that Silver Wheaton will never pay more than $4 an ounce for offtake.

"They're obviously wanting a lot more money up front than when we were doing deals while the silver price was $16," said Barnes. "The focus isn't on the $4 an ounce, its on the upfront payments."

And while growth remains important, Barnes said the company will focus on quality deals over quantity.

"Every deal looks good when gold and silver prices are where they are now," said Barnes. "But they're not going to be around these levels forever." (Reporting by Julie Gordon; editing by Rob Wilson)

The Once-a-Decade, 1200% Profit Trade Is Set Up

Matt Badiali writes: Rick Rule is buying natural gas...

Longtime DailyWealth readers are familiar with our friend Rick Rule, founder of Global Resource Investments. Rick is one of smartest, most successful resource investors in the world. In one of the greatest "runs" in investment history, from 1998 to 2006, Rick turned $15 million into roughly $460 million (before fees) for his customers.

In the resource business, you have to be willing to buy cheap, out-of-favor assets to generate those kinds of returns. You can't buy the hot asset that everyone wants.

After a two-year, 60% run in the benchmark commodity index (the CRB), cheap, hated assets are difficult to find. And right now, one of the few out-of-favor assets is natural gas... which has collapsed in price since 2007.

That's why I recently called up Rick and asked him what he thought about "natty" these days.

As I said, he's buying here... There are three big reasons why he expects much higher prices over the next five years...

First, the demand picture looks good.

Natural gas competes with thermal coal as fuel for electric power generation. From 1999 to 2009, natural gas was rarely cheaper than coal. But thermal coal prices soared over the last year. And in late 2010, natural gas prices fell below coal prices... and remain there today.

Power producers are going to start switching over to the cheaper fuel. For example, BP has already given $15 million and Ford $5 million to fund Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative project, which proposes to replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal plants with natural gas by 2015. In the grand scheme, that's not huge, but it's indicative of the trend.

Second, supply is going to drop.

Natural gas prices are so low – under $4 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) – it costs more to produce gas now than you can get for selling it. Most natural gas producers need $4.50-plus gas prices to break even. And most of the big, harder-to-drill shale plays need $5-plus. Natural gas producers can't keep operating like this for long. We're already seeing production shut down.

Take ConocoPhillips, the third-largest natural gas producer in Canada, for example. Conoco just cancelled new natural gas wells. It will spend the money on oil sands projects instead. In addition, it laid off 80 employees in the natural gas section and shifted others to oil sands work.

Finally, Rick has seen this all before. And last time, the rally in natural gas prices was enormous.

In the spring of 1999, natural gas prices were around $1.70 per mcf. We were coming off 15 years of plentiful gas and low prices. It was tough to make money drilling for natural gas. Domestic production fell 5% from 1996 to 1999.

But eventually, electric power generators realized how cheap natural gas had gotten. And then a brutally cold winter hit. Demand for natural gas grew. Soaring demand and a lack of natural gas production sent natural gas prices up in a spectacular run, topping out at nearly $30 per mcf (for a brief moment).

Shares of gas producers soared. Chesapeake Energy, now one of the largest natural gas exploration companies, shot up 1,233%, in just two years. This same scenario could happen again today...

It's early days in the big trend shift. It will take years to play out, but it's coming. Natural gas prices will go higher, and investors who position themselves today will make huge gains. That's why super-investor Rick Rule is buying natural gas... while the crowd doesn't want it.

If you take a cue from Rick, and invest now, you could make 1,200% or more over the coming years.

Good investing,

McAlvany Weekly Commentary

The End of Oil and Dollar Stability

A Look at This Week’s Show:

- Personal Recollections of Past Tsunami Devastation with Scott McAlvany
- Seismic Changes in the Dollar That Pre-date the Japanese Crisis
- Middle East Petro Dollar Complex Looking Elsewhere for Protection after US Abandonment

BNN: Top Picks

Stan Wong, VP & Associate Portfolio Manager, Macquarie Private Wealth, shares his top picks.

click here for the video

Ken Reser: Manganese, a Major Growth Opportunity

The Gold Report: What makes manganese desirable in a commercial sense?

Ken Reser: It's been a U.S. Defense Department-designated strategic metal since World War II. It's a critical supply chain mineral for the steel and aluminum industries, as well as many other key industries. And there's a lot of new technology relating to manganese-rich (electrolytic manganese) lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars, as well as many other battery uses. It's a metal that's rapidly transitioning through new discoveries and new uses.

TGR: So, advances in technology continue to create new opportunities for use of this element?

KR: Exactly. Manganese raw ore is basically $0.18/lb., but electrolytic manganese metal (EMM)—pure manganese metal—is roughly $1.65/lb. It was $2/lb. and higher back in 2007–2008. The thing that people are missing in the manganese story has to do with North American domestic supply—there is none. . .period. Just as China is safeguarding its own domestic supply of rare earth elements (REEs), electrolytic manganese and various other minerals, North America should be doing the same.

North American end users are paying China because it controls over 97% of the world's supply of EMM. All the end users in North America, for example, are paying the transoceanic shipping costs of raw ore from places like Africa, Brazil, Australia and Russia. They're paying for finished products to be shipped across the oceans, and then China charges a 20% export tax and the U.S. charges a 14% import tax. So, it's not a very level playing field for North American end users. I might also mention that about 40 years ago, the United States produced more steel than the rest of the world's countries combined, but now it's in number five position. The world is growing rapidly, and you can't make steel without manganese and without steel production the world stops.

TGR: And, clearly steel is the primary current manganese growth driver?

KR: Yes, I believe the steel industry consumes roughly 47% of the electrolytic manganese supply, aluminum another 32% and electronics 14% and the rest in fertilizer and chemicals. A steel company metallurgist explained to me once that if you didn't put 10–20 lb. of manganese into each ton of steel (depending on the type of steel that you were forging), a 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of steel an inch thick dropped onto a cement floor would shatter like a piece of glass.

TGR: With development of new manganese-rich cathode technology for batteries, is it possible that those uses for manganese could outstrip its use for steel?

KR: Well, that's kind of forward-looking. I don't know if it would outstrip it, but it's definitely going to add a large component. Both the U.S. and Japan have the technology for these batteries, and EMM is a key component. I think actually 65% of the battery component is electrolytic manganese.

TGR: How far along is manganese battery technology now?

KR: The Chevrolet Volt is already utilizing this lithium-ion manganese rich battery at present. MIT is developing another battery technology for wind farms, and these are container-size batteries that are liquid. There is liquid antimony in the lower portion of this battery, and a proprietary catalyst in the middle. There is molten magnesium on top. They state that a farm of these batteries can supply the power for a small city. Of course, the power is generated by wind farms. I'm assuming that the same can be done with solar farms. Magnesium is another key critical metal that I have recently started writing about and of which the U.S. has only one small domestic supplier.

TGR: This is an issue of greater power capacity. Is that correct?

KR: Yes, lithium-ion manganese rich batteries can store power about five times longer. Because of the electrolytic manganese-rich cathode, they can use about 50% less batteries in EVs and thus gain a weight, as well as a capacity, advantage.

TGR: If you can store five times the amount of electricity, you can come closer to supplying a sustained baseload of power.

KR: Yes, exactly. This other magnesium battery by MIT is for wind farms. It is in early stages but it's something that I'm following quite closely.

TGR: Ken, the spot price of electrolytic manganese has doubled over the past five years. Still, even at $1.65/lb., it sounds plentiful and inexpensive to get out of the ground and process into the EMM.

KR: Well, manganese is a very common element so there's lots of it. There are various types of ores—carbonate and oxide ore. The carbonate ores are more expensive for extraction to pure metal. A mix of toxic chemicals is used, as well as multiple grinding and crushing processes that aren't used or needed in a clean (of impurities) oxide ore.

The key thing I focus on is the fact that the U.S. has no domestic supply and only three companies currently have manganese projects in North America; one is in Canada and two are in Arizona. In North America, this EMM can be produced much more cheaply by one of these companies than it can in China where electrolytic manganese costs roughly $1/lb. to produce. If it's sold at $1.65/lb. and taxed at 20%, and then the U.S. adds a 14% import tax, this leaves American end users at a disadvantage.

TGR: Well, there's clearly an arbitrage opportunity here and that would be to build production.

KR: Exactly.

TGR: So, how finite is the commodity?

KR: Manganese itself isn't that finite at all but oxide manganese ore deposits are much less common. Manganese is the fourth-most traded metal in the world. The overall manganese ore industry is growing at about 8% per year and electrolytic manganese demand has been growing at 26% each year for the last five—that shows the huge growing demand for it.

TGR: You said manganese is a strategic metal, which implies there are no substitutes for its uses.

KR: Yes, that's correct. There is no substitute for manganese in its many applications.

TGR: And you believe there will continue to be new uses for the metal?

KR: I do.

TGR: How do you quantify manganese dependence in the U.S. and the rest of North America?

KR: 100%, unequivocally 100%. The U.S. does some recycling, but that's marginal.

TGR: Is this dependence situation the same in the EU and other parts of Asia outside of China?

KR: Yes. Russia has its own ore deposits, and it's closer to China than North America. Shipping of ore and finished product would be less expensive from China to Russia than it would be from China to North America.

TGR: Is the manganese industry nationalized in China, or is it just nationalized by virtue of the export tax?

KR: It's both. The country has both nationalized as well as private operations. But the country's actually closing down a lot of the electrolytic manganese plants simply because of its pollution factors. I think we're going to see an amalgamation of some of these state-owned and private companies as we move forward.

TGR: This is a China story in so many ways. The country creates demand with its infrastructure buildout and is the great producer of manganese with a tremendously unfair advantage.

KR: Yes, we see China putting export limits on rare earths and many other minerals. It's just simple mathematics. The country wants that product for its own domestic use; so, it's not going to sell it to the rest of the world, and then find itself with a shortfall. The developing world is growing rapidly, and it isn't just China—it's also India, Brazil and Russia. The rest of the world wants to move into the 21st century and will move ahead regardless. Whether North America grows with it or not, that move ahead is going to place huge demands on a developing world for all kinds of different minerals.

TGR: Do you expect to see an exponential rise in the price of manganese over, say, the next decade?

KR: Oh, I believe the price of electrolytic manganese is definitely going to climb because there will be new discoveries and new uses, and China is running out of ore. There are just so many changes. I follow the area of patent applications quite closely and maybe once a month, or once every couple of months, there's a patent application for some new use of EMM.

TGR: What are the cash costs for manganese in North America?

KR: Well, the only company that has revealed a cash cost is American Manganese Inc. (TSX.V:AMY, OTCPK:AMYZF), and it's expecting an EMM cash cost of $0.44–$0.45/lb. In China, electrolytic manganese costs $1/lb. plus shipping costs, and then you have the 20% export tax and a 14% U.S. import tax.

TGR: Well, at a $1.65/lb. spot price, that would be a very generous margin for American Manganese.

KR: Yes, the company has a tremendous benefit there. According to the USGS, American Manganese's Arizona deposit at Artillery Peak is an oxide ore. It's a friable ore, which, in geological or mineralogical terms, means it's very soft and doesn't require multiple milling and grinding processes, roasting process or toxic chemicals. It also has a low water use with benign tailings. The key component to the low cost is a process perfected by Kemetco Research Inc., which is under patent application by American Manganese. The complete Kemetco Process can be viewed here.

TGR: There were two other North American companies.

KR: I've spoken with the management of Wildcat Silver Corp. (TSX.V:WS) and Buchans Minerals Corporation (TSX.V:BMC), and I think they both have very robust projects. Wildcat Silver, for example, has about 120 million ounces (Moz.) of silver and its deposit contains zinc, as well as a manganese grade of 7%–8%.

In the case of Buchans Minerals, I believe it has a 7% or 8% average grade of manganese, as well as 12% iron. Both companies' deposits appear very large. I suspect its costs will be quite a bit higher than American Manganese's Artillery Peak project, as it has multiple grinding and milling and separation processes that will require roasting and use of chemicals because they are not oxide ores and do contain byproduct minerals.

TGR: American Manganese is up 196% over the past three months. Wildcat Silver is up 130% and Buchans is up 31% over the same period. Is there still upside on these?

KR: Oh, I believe so. These companies have a long way to go, but American Manganese has already identified approximately 15 billion pounds (Blb.) of EMM with a lot more drill work yet to be done. Buchans Minerals is in the early stages of its discovery work. Wildcat Silver is primarily a silver deposit, and it just closed a $13 million private placement with Silver Wheaton Corp. (TSX:SLW; NYSE:SLW) that gives SLW first refusal on any rights Wildcat might want to sell from its Hermosa property in Arizona [formerly known as the Hardshell property]. Wildcat is primarily a silver play with a potential carbonate manganese byproduct.

TGR: Among these three companies, does one have any greater advantage over the others?

KR: Well, I would say yes. I've been consulting for American Manganese for some time now and I know what its project entails. It's much more advanced and it's open pit. The ore is amenable to sulfurous acid leaching and doesn't require the multiple grinding and crushing circuits, the roasting of ore or hazardous chemicals, therefore, it has benign tailings. So, you could say that it's a very environmentally friendly process. AMY's putting up a pilot mill this spring to bulk test the process. Also, it has a lot more drilling to do because it appears the company's 15 Blb. EMM resource can be greatly expanded. The company has recently contracted with Wardrop to complete an NI 43-101 prefeasibility study.

TGR: I have really enjoyed meeting with you. Thank you for taking the time with us today.

KR: Thank you for having me.

Monthly Inflation Update

The latest annualized inflation rate is 2.11%.

The February 2011 Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) is 221.309. The annualized inflation rate computed from this number is 2.11%, which marks the 16th month of mild inflation after a streak of eight consecutive months of deflation. The annualized inflation rate is well below the 3.96% average since the end of World War II.
  • For a comparison of headline inflation with core inflation, which is based on the CPI excluding food and energy, see this new feature.

  • For a closer look at the sub-components of CPI, see this interior look at the data from the past three months.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has compiled CPI data since 1913 (BLS historic data). Our chart now shows inflation back to 1872 by adding Warren and Pearson's price index for the earlier years. The spliced series is available at Yale Professor Robert Shiller's website. This look further back into the past dramatically illustrates the extreme oscillation between inflation and deflation during the first 70 years of our timeline. Click here for additional perspectives on inflation and the shrinking value of the dollar.

Alternate Inflation Data
The ShadowStats Alternate rate of inflation is 9.62%

The chart below (click here for a larger version) includes an alternate look at inflation without the calculation modifications the 1980s and 1990s (Data from

As I've expressed elsewhere, my opinion is that the optimum method for calculating consumer prices is probably somewhere between the revised BLS method and the historic method preserved by Williams. However, government policy, the Federal Funds Rate, interest rates in general and decades of major business decisions have been fundamentally driven by the official BLS inflation data, not the alternate CPI. For this reason I think it best to take the alternate inflation data as a interesting, but not authoritative.

Japanese Politician Suggests Closing Financial Markets For A Week

Yesterday's speculation that a bank holiday was suggested and may be imposed in Japan due to unprecedented market swings and tens of trillions in support from the BOJ has just been confirmed. From Dow Jones: "The head of Japan's Upper House on Thursday suggested closing financial markets due to turmoil over the country's disasters, Kyodo News Service reported, in a stark example of how the crises have rattled some of Japan's prominent figures. "Markets are volatile--is such a situation acceptable?" Takeo Nishioka was quoted as telling a news conference. "Closing markets would be an option."" An option which alas would do nothing to mitigate fear, and courtesy of electronic futures markets around the world which can not be stopped save a global bank holiday, which would promptly be needed to "enforce" stability, not to mention FX or bond markets. Which is why expect to see ongoing swings of 10% in the Nikkei as everything is done to prevent further routs, up to an including the injection of further tens of trillion in taxpayer capital by the BOJ.

From Dow Jones:

Nishioka said it was necessary to close the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the currency markets for a week, Kyodo said.

The TSE has remained open and functioning during the punishing days immediately after Friday's earthquake and tsunami, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average plunging 6% Monday, 11% Tuesday, roaring back 4% Wednesday and then ending 1.4% lower Thursday after trimming an initial 4% drop.

It's difficult to imagine trying to halt global currency trading, a $4 trillion-a-day market of trades among banks that don't go through an exchange.

Nishioka is a member of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party although, as head of the Upper House, he is by custom supposed to be nonpartisan.

Commodities Gain for a Second Day; Oil Rises on Unrtest in Libya, Bahrain

Commodities gained for a second consecutive day, led by oil after fighting in Libya intensified, renewing concern that Middle East supplies may be further threatened in Africa’s third-largest fuel producer.

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 commodity futures gained as much as 1.2 percent after falling 0.4 percent. Prices dropped earlier today amid speculation Japan’s earthquake will curb demand.

Crude oil in New York rose as much as 1.3 percent to $99.20 a barrel, reversing an earlier loss of 1.4 percent, taking this year’s gain to 8.4 percent. The fuel climbed as much as 2.5 percent yesterday as violence in Bahrain increased concern that unrest will spill into Saudi Arabia.

“Gains were fragile, as Japan tensions remain,” Deutsche Bank AG’s analysts Adam Sieminski and Xiao Fu said in a report today. Crude prices were “underpinned by escalating uncertainties in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen,” they said.

Bahraini police arrested at least four opposition leaders a day after imposing a military curfew on parts of the country and forcing protesters from a central roundabout in the capital. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s warplanes bombed the Benghazi airport, rebels said, bringing the war to the opposition stronghold for the first time as the United Nations Security Council prepares to debate action.

The S&P GSCI has advanced 8.4 percent this year, partly driven by political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa that cut oil output in Libya and threatens disruptions in other producing countries. The increase has been limited by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, prompting investors to sell commodities on speculation demand will drop.

Nuclear Crisis

In Japan, more than 300 workers are racing to prevent a meltdown and spread of radiation at the crippled Fukushima Dai- Ichi power station today, an increase from a core group of 50 engineers yesterday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Japan is the world’s third-largest user of crude, the top importer of corn and second only to China in terms of copper-ore purchases.

Workers plan to connect a power line to start damaged cooling systems later today and intend to spray water on a damaged reactor from a cannon used by the police for riot control, Tepco spokesman Kaoru Yoshida said. Helicopters doused 30 metric tons of water on pools used to cool spent fuel rods. No change in radiation levels was reported after four bombing runs, Kyodo News said, citing Tepco.

“From the beginning to now, the situation in Japan seems to be getting worse and impacting commodity prices.” Dominic Schnider, director for wealth management research at UBS AG in Singapore, said today by phone.

Derailed Recovery

Immediate-delivery gold was little changed at $1,397.75 an ounce after dropping as much as 0.9 percent earlier, while copper advanced 0.9 percent to $9,340 a ton on the London Metal Exchange.

“Japan is a big economy; if we do have some sort of nuclear meltdown it will have big macro-economic impacts and that could derail the recovery,” Ben Westmore, a minerals and energy economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne, said by phone today.

“The commodity markets are jittery and do remain heavily focused on the impacts of the Japan nuclear power plant situation,” Westmore said.

Foreign governments including the U.S. and the U.K. advised their citizens to consider leaving Japan, as the Asian nation’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano urged people not to panic.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said today there is a possibility of no water at the No. 4 reactor spent- fuel cooling pool. The agency has detected no smoke or steam rising from the reactor, spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.

‘Major’ Disaster

“We are somewhere between a disaster and a major disaster,” EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told a European Parliament committee yesterday.

Spot platinum fell as much as 2.2 percent to $1,657.75 an ounce, the lowest intraday price since Dec. 1, and palladium lost as much as 1.5 percent to $688.25, lowest since Nov. 30. Prices of the metals used for pollution-control devices in cars dropped as Japanese carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest, halted operations following the quake.

Farm products were the biggest gainers. Corn for May delivery climbed as much as 2 percent to $6.2875 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. The price closed at the lowest level in two months yesterday. Wheat for May delivery climbed 2.3 percent to $6.77 a bushel after yesterday dropping to $6.56, the lowest price since Oct. 6.

“End-users snapped up purchases after values tumbled, which is helping prices creep up,” said Han Sung Min, a senior trader at Seoul-based Korea Exchange Bank Futures Co. “The rebound may be short-lived because investors remain jittery.”