SINGAPORE (Feb 8):

1. The Straits Times Index dipped slightly after hitting a new 52-week high of 3,071.64 on Tuesday. The top gainers on Wednesday were ComfortDelgro, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, Thai Beverage and Singapore Airlines. Among the laggards were SATS, Keppel Corporation, ST Engineering and UOL.

2. The euro is falling. It's now 1.07 vs the USD, 1.51 vs the SGD and 4.74 vs the ringgit. This is because Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate from the far-right National Front, is gaining in the polls. If she is elected, France could follow the UK and pull out of the EU. Remember that the pound fell as much as 15% after the Brexit vote in June 2016. The French election will be held on April 23.

3. Gold is rising after international tensions escalated between the US and Mexico, Australia, Germany, Iran and pretty much the rest of the world. There's even been talk of war in the press. The problem is it'll probably fall again when more news emerges about Trump's promised infrastructure spending plan, which will lift the USD and US stocks and draw funds away from gold. So if you're thinking of buying gold, expect volatility in the price and be prepared to hold on for the long term.

4. The USD strengthened against Asian currencies. It’s now 4.44 against the Malaysian ringgit. So far, the weaker ringgit Malaysian has helped expand exports, which grew to 10.7% y-o-y in Dec compared to 7.8% in Nov. For the full year, however, Malaysian exports are up just 1.1% y-o-y. The greenback is up against the Chinese yuan, too, after the country’s foreign reserves fell below the US$3 trillion mark in Jan, the lowest level in six years as a result of higher capital outflows. The USDCNY is now inching closer to the 7.00 mark at 6.88. As a whole though, the USD was stronger after hawkish comments from a US Federal Reserve official Tuesday, which reinforced expectations of a US interest rate hike in March.

5. Oil is going nowhere. On one hand, OPEC is actually keeping to its promise to cut production. Since it committed to doing so last Nov, its already complied with 91% of its targeted output cut and is now producing just over 32 million barrels per day. Why? Some say it's because Saudi Aramco is preparing to go for an IPO this year, so it needs oil prices to be higher to price its shares more attractively. On the other hand, the US is pumping a lot more shale now that prices have improved, so the global oil supply is still very high. On balance, oil prices have been capped between $51 and $55 in recent months.