Today the Dow broke a record and will likely finish the day with a record high. Some thoughts on a Fed driven rally.
Many of us have watched the climb of the stock market since March of 2009 with a general sense of of unease. We’ve watched our central bank, the Federal Reserve, do all that it could/can to move shares up. Every time the markets faltered the Fed came to the rescue and dumped piles of cash on Wall Street. Check out this chart of the correlation between the Fed’s printing efforts of the past few years and performance of the S&P.
The Fed wasn’t supposed to do this. When I started trading the idea that there was a Fed “plunge protection team” out there was total conspiracy theory territory. But by just looking this chart it is fairly clear that if there wasn’t an effort to protect against plunges before, there certainly is an effort now. We have taken leave of the market in the market. A politburo in the form of the FOMC has taken over economy.
Earnings etc still have an important role in the stock markets, but far more important on an aggregate level is whether the Federal Reserve will continue to print money, raise interest rates, and so on.
But hey, that’s reality. Lesson 1 on the Street- “Don’t fight the Fed.”
Our stock markets are now as much political tools as anything. If stocks rise the monied classes don’t complain as much. This is a vital lesson our government has learned over the years. It’s what got Obama re-elected in my opinion. Had the Dow been kicking around 8K in November it is extremely unlikely the Mr. Obama would be president today.
So enjoy the new highs. Who knows maybe we’ll continue to move higher. But know that the honesty of the market (what was left of it) has been a casualty during this rally. That may not matter to many as they watch their 401ks plump up, and don’t get me wrong I enjoy it as much as anyone, but the death of the market driven market matters to me and it should to anyone who believes in fair play. (A quaint concept I am aware.)
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Return of Chinese buyers from New Year holiday to rally gold as central banks buy most in 50 years
Posted on 15 February 2013
Bearish noises in the gold pit have lowered prices again this week but the real reason for the price fall is the absence of the world’s most voracious buyers, the Chinese who are on a national holiday this week for their New Year, though they have been buying in the gold souks of Dubai instead.
Global central banks bought more gold last year than at any time in the past 50 years, according to figures published yesterday by the World Gold Council. They added 535 tons to reserves, 17 per cent more than in 2011. Gold prices rose for a 12th successive year.
The bear argument against gold is that economic growth is picking up in the US and China and will divert investment into stocks and away from disaster insurance like gold. That can only really stack up if you believe economic growth is actually about to accelerate.
Unexpectedly GDP in the US did not grow at all in Q4 and recent Chinese trade data is a fiction according to many Asian economists. Besides if the world economy does grow a bit faster this year it will be entirely down to money printing by the global central banks who continue to hedge their own inflation risk with gold.
Individuals are likely to do the same and hedge funds could quickly switch back to being bullion positive. Our local ‘Mr. Gold’ in Dubai thinks the gold price will bottom at current levels and not test the $1,500 an ounce level that chartists have as a potential floor.
Chinese liquidity coming back into the bullion market is probably all it takes. China is the biggest global gold consumer and overtook India sometime last year. They always love to snap up a bargain and with gold on sale should be back with a bang from their holidays.
ArabianMoney does not buy the argument about Chinese growth being bearish for gold. If it is true then the inflation risk is elevated again and the Chinese know gold is the best way to diversify their foreign exchange reserves.
Gold legend Jim Sinclair has highlighted the Chinese as the savoirs of the gold price in 2013 with the first Chinese ETF on the horizon . We think the current price weakness is just down to the absence of Chinese buyers for their New Year.
Sell your gold cheaply now and you will regret it as the price goes up again. Mr. Sinclair’s conservative price target is still $3,500 an ounce.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:22 am
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Currency traders prepare for a dollar rally and stock market crash but then you should buy gold and silver
Posted on 08 October 2012
Sometimes we find technical charts very useful in divining the immediate outlook for markets. Clive Maund’s excellent latest gold market update (click here) highlights the potential for a dollar rally over the next few weeks and shows how the professional currency traders have unwound their euro positions in preparation.
From a fundamental perspective you can understand why they are doing this. Stock markets are perilously high for such a dismal economic outlook. When stocks fall the US dollar and US bonds rally. It is as automatic as the conversion of shares into cash.
Mr. Maund’s analysis cleverly takes this a stage further and concludes that this will be a false or at least very short rally for the US dollar. After that the dollar plunges off the edge of a cliff, fiscal or not, and into the abyss of QE3 money printing.
So if you cash out of stocks this month you should not stay in cash. Where should you put your money if you’re worried about the dollar and T-bonds? What other option except gold and silver do you have?
But be careful, gold and silver prices could also get quite a whack from a falling stock market, so wait for your moment, advises Mr. Maund, though we wonder how much the rotation from cash to precious metals will support prices during this sell-off.
This could be the final cue for the real lift-off in precious metal prices as a currency that nobody can print in an age of central bank money printing. They are all at it in a race to debase their currencies before their economies implode with debt. Those implosions are about to start.
Gold and silver will soar in value in this phase of their bull market. Most other assets will struggle and some will fall very badly.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:24 am
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Farming setbacks derail UK land price rally
The dismal year for UK arable growers, hit by their lowest wheat yields in 20 years and worst potato harvest for 36 years, has fed through into a fall in farmland prices, according to land agency Knight Frank.
Farmland prices fell by 1.2% to an average of £6,220 per acre in the July-to-September period, the worst performance since that in the first three months of 2009, at the depths of the global financial crisis.
Weather setbacks, including the wettest summer in a century, have led to a sharp drop in both yields and quality. Only 4% of group 1 wheat varieties have met full milling specification this year, compared with 40% last year.
The potato harvest will fall by up to 25%, Produce Investments said earlier this week.
"It has undoubtedly been a difficult year for the UK’s famers," Clive Hopkins, the head of Knight Frank’s farms and estates department, said.
However, the consultancy remained upbeat over prospects for farmland prices, which have proven a more lucrative investment than the likes of shares or residential property over the last decade
"Given that farmers have just experienced one of the worst growing seasons for many decades, conditions, the fact that farmland is only £70 an acre below its all-time high is a reflection of how robust the market remains," Andrew Shirley, Knight Frank head of rural property research, said.
Good arable land is regularly achieving more than £7,500 an acre.
The agency forecast that farmland prices would "start rising again soon", and appreciate by some 5% over the next 12 months, underpinned by the strong values of agricultural commodities.
As an asset class farmland prices have also shown strong returns over the past decade, up almost 200%.
While similar appreciation has been seen in oil prices over the same time frame, the FTSE 100 share index has risen by 57%. Average UK house prices are up 48%.
The appeal is in part based on rents which have seen "sharp"increases, rising up to 40% in three-year reviews for traditional farm tenancies.
"It has reached the point where landowners need to think very carefully before accepting the highest bids from prospective tenants,"Knight Frank said.
"On paper they look very attractive, but there is a danger that they will become unsustainable if commodity prices fall.
"If that happens, your tenant will struggle to pay the rent or may not look after your land as carefully as you would like."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:44 am
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Corn, soybean rally isn’t over yet, says Macquarie
Macquarie hiked grain price forecasts, predicting that corn and soybean futures will yet set fresh records, as it forecast the need for "higher prices throughout 2012-13" to curtail demand to match drought-hit harvests.
The bank cautioned that the US Department of Agriculture estimate for the domestic corn harvest is still too high, by 10m tonnes, warning of high levels of abandonment forced by drought in the latest of a series of downbeat estimates from commentators.
On soybeans, the USDA, which unveils its latest crop forecasts on Monday, is closer to the mark, Macquarie said, also in line with market thinking, after rains arrived in time to refresh many crops.
However, the market’s focus had now switched more to the "demand rationing side", on which prices had further work to do to make dwindled supplies last, Macquarie analyst Chris Gadd said.
‘Rationing job to finish’
For corn futures, after an autumn dip prompted by harvest pressure and switching to other grains, prices will return above $8 a bushel in 2013, averaging $8.75 a bushel in the July-to-September quarter as "markets finish off the rationing and substitution job", Mr Gadd said.
This week’s US corn crop estimates
Allendale survey – yield, 118.2 bushels per acre; production, 10.326bn bushels
FCStone – yield, 121.4 bushels per acre; production, 10.607bn bushels
Linn Group – yield, 119.9 bushels per acre; production, 9.954bn bushels
Macquarie – yield, "in line with USDA"; production, 10.374bn bushels
USDA: yield, 123.4 bushels per acre; production, 10.779bn bushels
"And that is an average price for the quarter. We expect prices to go much higher than that," he told Agrimoney.com.
The current record for Chicago corn futures is $8.43 ¾ a bushel for a spot contract, set a month ago, with forward lots pricing in a far weaker outlook that Macquarie has portrayed.
Chicago’s July 2013 contract stood at $7.81 ¾ a bushel in morning deals, with the September 2013 contract at $6.83 ¾ a bushel.
A late-2012-13 jump in corn prices will be needed to curtail demand from biofuel plants, given that "ethanol will have destocked by this point", Mr Gadd said, meaning that "this portion to demand will become more difficult to ration".
‘By far the most bullish’
However, he was most bullish over soybeans, for which he hiked forecasts for Chicago spot futures prices in the first quarter of 2012 to $19.00 a bushel, well above Tuesday’s record of $17.94 ¾ a bushel, and the futures curve.
This week’s US soy crop estimates
Allendale survey – yield, 34.9 bushels per acre; production, 2.602bn bushels
FCStone – yield, 36.7 bushels per acre; production, 2.739bn bushels
Linn Group – yield, 35.9 bushels per acre; production, 2.667bn bushels
Macquarie – yield, N/A; production, 2.65bn bushels
USDA: yield, 36.1 bushels per acre; production, 2.692bn bushels
Investors are pricing in values of $17.41 ½ a bushel for January futures, and $16.86 a bushel for the March 2013 contract.
Soybeans were "by far the most bullish" of Chicago’s big three crops, given a need for rationing which was "far more material" for the oilseed, given not only drought-hit production in North and South America, but a disappointing world rapeseed crop too.
"Soybeans have no easy way out through substitution with alternative oilseeds," Mr Gadd said.
‘Getting tighter, rather than looser’
Soybean prices had "done a pretty poor job to date" of rationing demand, with crush margins "relatively strong" in the US, and "improving" in China.
Markets are "going the wrong way about rationing", he said, warning that "balances are getting tighter rather than looser".
And the oilseed looked set to prove "way more bullish" heading into 2013-14 too, given the extent of inventory replenishment required – a fact that looks set to win the oilseed acres from both corn and cotton in the US spring planting season.
Soybean futures will average $17.50 a bushel next summer, well above values below $16 a bushel markets are pricing in.
Chicago vs Paris wheat
For Chicago wheat investors, the bank foresaw some upside too, although values, forecast at $9.25 a bushel for the first half of next year, are closer to the futures curve.
Macquarie price forecasts
Q4 2012 – corn, $7.50 a bushel; soybeans, $18.50 a bushel; wheat $8.50 a bushel
Q1 2013 – corn, $7.75 a bushel; soybeans, $19.00 a bushel; wheat $9.25 a bushel
Q2 2013 – corn, $8.50 a bushel; soybeans, $17.50 a bushel; wheat $9.25 a bushel
Q3 2012 – corn, $8.75 a bushel; soybeans, $17.50 a bushel; wheat $9.25 a bushel
Data: quarter average, Chicago front contract
"Wheat prices have outperformed their fundamentals," Mr Gadd said.
Indeed, prospects looked better for European, and Russian, prices than those in the US, given the "poor crops" in both regions, limiting their supplies for export.
"They cannot supply all the needs of North African importers," traditional buyers from the regions, as well as domestic demands.
"We will have to see European and former Soviet Union wheat priced out of these markets.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:36 pm
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Meat groups ‘in crisis’ as grains rally continues
Poultry farmers in Germany Brazil are being driven to financial hardship by high feed prices in the latest signs of the hardship that the grains rally, which continued on Monday, is wreaking on buyers.
Brazil’s poultry association, Ubabef, termed a "crisis of the most serious kind" the squeeze on producers’ margins from high grain costs which typically account for about 60% of expenses
The group said that some 20 of its 80 members were in financial difficulties, exacerbated by tightened credit conditions as banks tighten up on credit, with one group, Diplomata, already having filed for bankruptcy protection.
The financial difficulties of the sector – the world’s biggest broiler meat exporter, narrowly ahead of the US – were evident chicken meat output which, according to Ubabef, fell last month some 10% below the industry average of 1.1m tonnes per month.
‘To the brink of ruin’
The comments came hours after ZDG, the German poultry industry association, warned that "exorbitant" increases in grain prices were driving producers "to the brink of ruin".
"Long-established, solid profit-making companies," were being left "in a precarious position" by a situation which was not of their making, but which had increased costs of soybeans, an important feed ingredient, by some 70% year on year.
"The high feed prices are due to prolonged drought and resulting poor harvests of corn and soybeans, especially in the US," ZDG said.
Increases in consumer prices of chicken were "inevitable" as producers sought to recoup costs.
Germany is, with a share of 8% of regional chicken output, a middle-ranking European Union producer but ranks fourth in the bloc in consumption, at some 970,000 tonnes per year, and third in imports, on estimates from US Department of Agriculture staff.
Other signs of demand rationing have been evident in US feedlots, which took on 10% fewer cattle last month than in July 2011, a bigger decline than the market had expected, data late on Friday showed.
High feed prices "very likely kept a good number of cattle out of lots, for now", Paragon Economics and Steiner Consulting said in a report.
"We expect cattle placements to remain lower than one year ago for the remainder of 2012," the briefing added.
"Tighter feeder cattle supplies and record-high feed prices will both discourage any growth in feedlot numbers."
In fact, many analysts have forecast that poultry producers would be the first to squeal from higher feed prices, being a large user of grain – accounting for 33% of US feed grain consumption, compared with 24% for feedlots – and, in the US at least, hitting the rally at a time of weakened margins.
Fitch Ratings last week said that the impact of high grain prices "will be more immediate in poultry, while in the short run, life hog prices may decline as the producers slaughter animals early to avoid higher feed cost.
"In the US, the high corn prices will prompt cattle ranchers to skip the feedlot stage when corn is fed to the animals and send them directly to the slaughter houses."
‘Very inopportune time’
The comments came as the ratings agency week cut to negative its outlook for its credit ratings on Brasil Foods, JBS and Marfrig, the Brazilian protein groups.
"The timing of the drought is an issue for JBS and Marfrig as their ratings are weak in their respective categories and as they need to make progress in deleveraging to help maintain their credit quality.
"For Brasil Foods, the increase in corn price comes at a very inopportune time," as it works through cutbacks and disposals ordered by antitrust regulators as part of a merger settlement.
Both Brasil Foods, the world’s largest poultry exporter, unveiling a 99% drop in second-quarter earnings, and Marfrig said last week they were seeking price increases to carry them through the tough market conditions.
However, Fitch cautioned, "in the context of a slow economy in Brazil", over the difficulty in pushing through price rises without denting demand.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:20 pm
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Drought crimps rise in U.S. Midwest farmland values
Reuters | Updated: August 16, 2012
The price of prime farmland in the drought-hit U.S. Midwest grain belt rose 1 percent in the second quarter, the smallest quarterly increase in two years, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said on Thursday.
But while the district’s worst drought in nearly a quarter century will dramatically shrink soybean and corn output, land values this quarter were not expected to fall, the Fed said in its quarterly survey of 205 bankers in the district.
The Chicago Fed district includes the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan.
"The drought did not seem to have stifled all the momentum of rising agricultural land values," the Chicago Fed said in its August Ag Letter.
Just 4 percent of those surveyed expected farmland values to drop this quarter; more than 70 percent see farmland markets leveling off.
"Coming after several years of farm income that were better than average, the drought should not reverse the gains in farmland values, but there could be a pause while expectations about future earnings from crop production adjust to the short-term effects of this summer’s drought," the Fed said.
The value of district farmland rose 15 percent from a year earlier, the report said, a rise that "seems modest only in the context of exploding farmland values over the past few years."
In the Chicago Fed district, Iowa and Illinois combined produce about a third of the domestic corn and soybean crops. The United States is the world’s leading exporter of those food and industrial crops.
Farmland values are closely watched by Federal Reserve economists and by commercial bankers as a barometer of U.S. banking assets and as a benchmark for agricultural balance sheets. Farmland is a basic collateral for farm loans.
The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s quarterly farmland survey on Wednesday showed values across Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and parts of Missouri rose 3 percent from the prior quarter.
While the drought in the Chicago Fed district is considered the harshest since 1988, the wider drought affecting the rest of the Midwest and the Plains states has been called the worst one in 56 years.
CREDIT CONDITIONS LEVEL
Higher crop prices and crop insurance payments will partially offset the drought’s impact, but the drought — the worst in the district since 1988 — has hit livestock operations particularly hard, the Fed report said.
Higher feed costs and the lack of extensive insurance coverage for corn and soybean prices have cut dairy, hog, poultry and cattle enterprises.
The district has already incurred "severe losses" in farm income in 2012, the Chicago Fed report said.
Still, agricultural credit conditions in the Corn Belt were resilient, with funds availability at a record high, and repayment rates for non-real-estate farm loans improving.
While interest rates on agricultural operating loans and mortgages set new lows, demand for non-real-estate loans was "feeble" compared to a year ago, it said. The average loan-to-deposit ratio, at 68.1 percent, was 10 percentage points below the average level that respondents said was optimal.
A few bankers thought repayment problems would increase because of the drought, the survey said. Respondents expected overall non-real-estate agricultural loan volumes to fall this quarter compared with a year ago, while farm mortgage volumes were forecast to rise slightly.
The Fed said that Iowa farmland values remained the strongest in the district with a year-over-year increase of 24 percent.
Land values in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were up 15 percent, 12 percent, and 13 percent, respectively. (There were too few responses in Michigan to generate data this quarter, it said). Non-real-estate farm loan volumes were expected to rise in Indiana and Wisconsin, the report said.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:55 pm
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Wheat prices extend rally as crop fears ratchet up
Wheat prices extended their rally on both sides of the Atlantic, closing in London at their highest in nearly three months, as reports on crops from Argentina to Russia chipped away at production hopes.
Wheat for July stood 2.0% higher in late deals in Chicago, taking gains this week above 10%, while in London the best-traded November lot ended up 1.0% at £161.25 a tonne, the highest finish since late March.
The gains came amid a fresh round of downbeat reports on world crops, including the tumbling condition of spring grains in the major Canadian producing province of Saskatchewan, where some parts received four inches of rain in a week.
In Argentina, where farmers are being deterred from the grain by export restrictions, the government overnight forecast wheat sowings at 3.82m hectares, the lowest area for decades.
The country, even on a harvested basis, has not seen a lower area since 1970-71, when farmers reaped 3.70m hectares, according to US Department of Agriculture data.
Meanwhile, a string of reports from the former Soviet Union reported disappointing yields from early harvest of winter grains.
In Russia’s drought-hit Rostov region, local farm officials reported grain yields of 1-1.3 tonnes per hectare in eastern areas, although on southern farms, where heat has had less of an impact, results were coming in at 3.2-3.4 tonnes per hectare.
In Ukraine, initial harvest had shown "low yields" of about 2 tonnes per hectare, Agritel said, adding that the national crop looked like coming "lower than 8m tonnes, close to 7.7m tonnes" compared with 9m tonnes last year.
A European commodities house with significant Black Sea agricultural interests noted an unnamed Ukrainian company reporting a yield of "1.6 tonnes per hectare rather than the 4.3 tonnes of last year".
"Quality is also disappointing with low specific weights and talk of disease and insect damaged grains."
The European Union offered some better production news, with grain trader Toepfer International raising to 22.71m tonnes, from 21.49m tonnes, its forecast for the German crop.
That put a small rise in production from last year’s 22.70m-tonne crop on the cards, besides topping a 22.5m-tonne estimate from Strategie Grains last week, and a 21.3m-tonne forecast from farmers.
In France, FranceAgriMer kept at 73% its estimate of the domestic soft wheat crop, the EU’s biggest, rated in "good" or "excellent" condition, up from 27% a year ago, when the country suffered an unusually dry spring.
"That’s not going to tip the needle much against everything else going on," a UK grain trader told Agrimoney.com.
"There’s not a panic on. But buyers are being made to work that bit harder."
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:31 pm
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Downbeat speculators ‘burned’ by grain price rally
Speculators were wrong-footed by last week’s recovery in grain futures, increasing their exposure to price falls in the run up to the rally, as part of a broadly downbeat attitude towards commodities.
"Negative sentiment towards commodities remains the theme," Paul Deane at Australia & New Zealand Bank said, after US regulatory data showed speculators "increasingly bearish" towards the sector.
Commodity currencies, such as the Australia and Canadian dollars and Brazilian real, "have also been on the back foot since concerns over European debt issues came to the fore".
The agricultural commodities complex was particular badly hit, suffering "the most bearish respositioning by speculators", Koun-Ken Lee at Standard Chartered said.
According to Rabobank, managed money, a proxy for speculators, cut its overall net long position in US-traded futures and options by nearly 93,000 contracts to 502,112 lots in the week to last Tuesday, "the largest decline since the end of November".
‘Burns wheat shorts’
The sell-off was particularly notable in cotton futures and options, in which managed money built its net short holding by 5,762 contracts to a five-year high of more than 13,000 lots, and a positioning in which speculators continue to show gains.
Speculators net longs in grains and oilseeds, May 15, (change on week)
Chicago soybeans: 218,088, (-22,240)
Chicago corn: 83,667, (-34,655)
Chicago soymeal: 90,035, (-7,346)
Chicago soyoil: -11,136, (-22,894)
Kansas wheat: -24, (-996)
Chicago wheat: -50,057, (-3,870)
New York cotton futures, while edging higher in the last two sessions, remain near two-year lows, depressed by expectations of a bigger US harvest, at a time when economic jitters are depressing hopes for consumption.
However, speculators cut net long exposure to Chicago corn, and increased net short exposure to wheat, in the week – which preceded a strong rally in grains on fears that dryness in the US and, in particular, Russia pose for prospects for winter grains production.
The Russian drought prospects had "burned wheat shorts" in sparking a rash of covering of these short positions, ANZ’s Paul Deane said.
‘More short-covering to do’
"Wheat has been used as the short leg of commodity spread trades for much of 2012 – such as long soybeans, short wheat," he said.
Speculators net longs in New York softs, May 15, (change on week)
Raw sugar: 24,682, (+4,295)
Cocoa: -7,573, (-590)
Coffee: -10,529, (+3,092)
Cotton: -13,068, (-5,762)
"Given the extent of the rally in wheat last week, these trades started to quickly move out of the money, resulting in a degree of fund short-covering."
And non-commercial investors in general "have more [short-covering] to do on continued upward momentum", Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.
"By and large, the technicals still look supportive. The technicals are not indicating overbought conditions and the market hasn’t even blinked at potential resistance levels."
It may take a "shift in the US or global weather forecast" to stem short-covering, he added.
‘Outflows appear to have increased’
Other commodities affected by the bearish shift in sentiment included soybeans, for which speculators further cut their net long position, which hit a record high last month.
In soyoil, speculators switched to a net short position, while in cocoa, speculators nudged their net short position higher.
The sentiment was reflected in the exchange traded agricultural index funds.
"Outflows appear to have increased in the last few weeks, with year-to-date outflows already at $326m, 10% of assets under management," Standard Chartered’s Koun-Ken Lee said.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon May 21, 2012 7:09 am
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